BRADY, Texas (AP) _ Texas Ranger Stan Guffey was killed in the rescue of a 2-year-old kidnap victim because he ″did what was right″ in hesitating to fire, mourners at his funeral were told.
″It’s an example of raw courage and heroism at its best,″ Col. James Adams, director of the Department of Public Safety, said at Guffey’s funeral Monday.
Guffey and Ranger John Aycock had volunteered for the action in which Kara Lee Whitehead was plucked from kidnapper Brent Albert Beeler in a shootout at Horseshoe Bay on Thursday night. Beeler, 23, already had killed the Whitehead family’s maid, authorities said.
The girl and Aycock came out unharmed, but Guffey was shot in the head by Beeler, who also died in the shootout.
The service was moved from St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church to the larger Church of Christ, but the crowd of 750 mourners, many of them in uniform, spilled out of the church in this town of 6,500.
Guffey, 40, joined the Department of Public Safety in 1968 and became a Texas Ranger in 1979.
A motorcade of some 150 carloads of officers escorted Guffey’s Texas flag- draped coffin to the Resthaven Cemetery, where the slain ranger was buried after a nine-gun salute and the playing of ″Taps.″
The Rev. James S. Kaston delivered the homily from a flower-covered altar, with one arrangement designed like a Ranger’s badge.
″Such a commitment and risk is part of a law officer’s dedication,″ he said, although Guffey’s still was the ″tragic death of a young man.″
Adams said Guffey and Aycock volunteered to hide in the getaway car provided for the kidnapper because they considered that the best chance to rescue the girl.
Although Guffey had a clear shot at Beeler, he first identified himself and gave Beeler a chance to surrender, Adams told mourners.
″He did what was right but it cost him his life,″ Adams said.
″They knew that the key here was to make sure that he (Beeler) did not leave with Kara. They couldn’t afford to take a chance. That increased the danger tremendously.″
Guffey was the first Texas Ranger killed in the line of duty since 1978.
″Stan is not the first Texas Ranger to give his life for the people of Texas,″ Adams said. ″And sadly, he’s not likely to be the last.″