FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — “Will you please help me welcome officer Azucena,” the announcer said as he backed away from the podium in the middle of the gym floor and hundreds of school students erupted in cheers and applause.
Southwest Christian School administrators started planning a show of support during last Friday night’s football game after they heard about two Fort Worth officers shot while responding to a suicide call.
Ray Azucena was one of those officers. But today he was on the receiving end of well-wishes and support instead of gunfire, a pep and prayer rally for police.
“That’s amazing!” Azucena beamed after the rally. “It feels really good that they would even think about us. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
Azucena was training under Officer Xavier Serrano when they were attacked by a gunman hiding in a shed.
“All of a sudden bullets come flying out and it was just, it was scary,” Azucena recalled. “And especially just two months out of training and it’s just surreal.”
A bullet hit Azucena’s body armor right above his heart.
“It hit me right there,” Azucena said pointing to the middle of his chest. “And it felt like it went through, but I didn’t want to look down at my chest at the time. It just left a big bruise and a little dip on there. But I’ll survive.”
“I got a phone call,” his wife Ashley said of last Friday night. “Hardest phone call of my life.”
Azucena’s wife says she had brief doubts about her husband continuing his career, especially with two young daughters at home.
“I did that night,” Mrs. Azucena. “But you know he’s a great officer I will support him and if he wants to keep doing it I’ll let him keep doing it.”
Azucena says he hopes the students take away a lesson in faith, and a lesson about the men and women in blue.
“And, I just want to say have faith in God,” Azuncena said. “He’ll point you to the right direction and he’ll take care of you whenever you need him.”
“These guys are the future. And if we can ingrain in their mind that we’re here to help, that we are not bad guys then they can call us whenever they need to. That’s really important.”
The students raise more than $5000 to help out Azucena and his wounded partner’s families. Azucena said he hopes to be back on the job in the next few weeks.
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