BELL COUNTY (July 27, 2013) -- A morning ride to remember a slain Killeen Police Officer, Robert Hornsby, began with a prayer. A chaplain spoke from the loudspeaker of a police vehicle.
"We ask that you watch over us this morning as we make our way to help honor one of our fallen heroes, officer Hornsby. He gave his life in the line of duty to help keep us safe."
The ride was spear-headed by Amber Howell, Temple College Police Officer and a member of the Posse Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. After she found out about Hornsby, she asked her chief if she could hold a benefit to help the family.
"He said 'just do it,'" said Howell. The ride was from Temple College to the Killeen Events Center. Police motorcycle clubs like the Blue Knights and other area residents showed up to provide support.
"He's a brother," said Howell as tears fell from her eyes. "There are no words. They are your brother. We will be here for every officer. That is what we do with the blue line. We stand together, we are together, we are one. We fight together, we mourn together and we cry together."
Kimberly Hornsby, the wife of Robert Hornsby came to ride for her husband. "She's strong and I am telling you, she's such a tiny little thing too," said Howell talking about Kimberly. "It's just amazing for this little girl to be so strong. And here I am working in this and I don't think... I couldn't do it.
I don't think I could be as strong as her and she has just been a pillar. Great example for all families of fallen officers." Another pillar of strength was Marsha Cottle, who came out to support Kimberly as a wife who had also lost a husband in the line of duty.
Richard Cottle was a DPS Trooper in Waco. He had been with the department for almost 30 years. He was working undercover in a counterfeit document case and was traveling to Dallas to present it to the grand jury.
Cottle was killed in a vehicular crash with two 18-wheelers. "You learn to live with it," said Marsha. "The pain doesn't ever go away, but you learn to live with it and you just try to be there for other people that may be experiencing something similar."
Marsha is an honorary member of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. The ride reminded her of the day she got the news. "Richard had always told me 'if something happens to me, you won't get a phone call. Someone will come to your door,'" said Cottle.
She was in the shower when her youngest son, home from college, came down the hall and pounded on the door. He informed Marsha that her friends, a state trooper and his wife, were at the door. "I kept screaming 'what do they want,' and he said 'I don't know, they won't tell me,'" said Marsha.
"I can just remember standing there in that shower thinking I can't get out. why else are they going to be here at that time of the morning. When she finally made her way down the hallway and saw the troopers eyes, she knew what had happened.
"The next four days until he was buried was a blur," said Marsha. "Had it not been for his trooper friends, I don't think I could have gotten through it. I had to have someone say 'lets go to the funeral home,' cause I just sat there, just in a fog. I couldn't do anything."
Marsha said the hardest part was when everyone went back to their normal lives and she was left alone. She went to a support group through a chapter called Concerns Of Police Survivors. On the year anniversary of her husband's death, Marsha invited friends over for a cook-out.
"I didn't think I could be by myself on that day," said Marsha. "It was so helpful because we laughed and told stories about him and tried to think of the good times and not the bad.
When I see all the outpouring and love and support that officer Hornsby is getting, it just makes me proud. It makes me proud to be a part of the family that takes care of each other." After the ride to Killeen, everyone was treated to lunch, silent auction and drawings.