COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – Compassionate. Humble. A good friend. A dedicated public servant.
Those were some of the words that family and friends used during a funeral service Saturday to fondly remember a law enforcement officer who was among three people killed in a shootout near Texas A&M University.
More than 3,000 people attended the service for Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann at an arena on the A&M campus in College Station. Among those in attendance were law enforcement officers from across the state, including Lubbock in West Texas and Hidalgo County in South Texas. A choir of more than 80 people from Bachmann’s Methodist church in College Station sang during the service.
“Brian would sacrifice himself for the benefit of others, always,” his mother, Carmen Bachmann, said as she stood on a stage above her son’s flag-draped coffin.
Authorities say Bachmann was fatally shot Monday by Thomas Alton Caffall III. The 41-year-old constable was trying to serve Caffall with a court summons for being two months behind on rent. Other officers fatally shot the 35-year-old Caffall.
A bystander also was killed in the shootout, and three police officers and a female bystander were wounded.
Caffall’s family has said he was suffering from an unspecified mental illness and has stated, “It breaks our hearts his illness led to this.”
During Saturday’s more than 2 1/2 hour-long service, the Rev. Tommy Myrick, a pastor at the constable’s church, said Bachmann hated serving evictions and when he would have to put someone out of their home, he would do whatever he could to find them a new one.
“He would help them with property transport to a safe place and the thing is he didn’t have to do that,” Myrick said. “Brian was going to try and find that guy (Caffall) a place to live. There’s no doubt in my mind when he stepped out of his car (on Monday he was) thinking, `Where will I find this guy a place to live?'”
Bachmann, who was married and the father of four children, had worked nearly 20 years in law enforcement. He had been a constable since January 2011, after winning election to the post the prior November.
Authorities say Bachmann had gone to a home near the university’s football stadium to deliver a notice for Caffall to appear in court on Aug. 23 because he owed $1,250 in rent.
Officers who later arrived at the scene found Bachmann shot on the lawn of the house. Police say it appears that Bachmann never fired his weapon.
Police said officers shot and killed Caffall after a more than 20-minute shootout. Caffall fired more than 65 rounds during the incident. Authorities found four weapons in Caffall’s home, including a handgun he took from Bachmann after fatally shooting him. The other weapons were a semi-automatic sniper rifle, an assault rifle and a bolt-action rifle.
Also killed in the shootout was Chris Northcliffe, 51, who had been checking on a nearby home he owned. His funeral service was held earlier Saturday in College Station, located 100 miles northwest of Houston.
The three wounded officers have been treated and released. The wounded female bystander, Barbara Holdsworth from Houston, remains hospitalized but her friends say she is improving.
During the funeral service, friends and family members told stories of how Bachmann was dedicated to helping others and how he preferred finding solutions to problems rather than simply writing a ticket. They also talked about his infectious smile and recalled humorous anecdotes about Bachmann’s propensity for wrecking patrol vehicles when he was a sheriff’s deputy.
“He genuinely wanted to help people,” said Marc Hamlin, the Brazos County district clerk and a close friend of Bachmann’s. “He truly believed that people were good.”
Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk, another close friend, said Bachmann was dedicated to doing the best job he could. Kirk said he had hoped Bachmann would one day run for sheriff and take over his job.
“We will never know when the door to eternity will open. In Brian’s case it was on Fidelity Street in College Station (the street where he was fatally shot),” Kirk said, his voice trembling with emotion. “Brian had no chance to defend himself. However, Brian was prepared for eternity.
“I will truly miss my good friend Brian,” the sheriff said. “God bless his soul and may he rest in peace.”
Brad Bachmann, the constable’s father, shared stories about Bachmann as a young boy and how he “wanted to be the best cop in the world.”
“This is not goodbye but see you later,” he said as he saluted his son.
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