MISSION — American flags lined both sides of the road in front of the Mission Police Department on Friday morning.
Stop signs along what was once 8th Street had the street name covered with black cloth, each with a single blue line running through the width of the sign.
Soon to be unveiled were the new street signs, a tribute to the late Mission PD Corporal Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta.
On what would’ve been his 45th birthday, a dedication ceremony was held in Espericueta’s honor to announce the renaming of 8th Street. The new name of the street is now Corporal Speedy Drive.
Espericueta, a 13-year veteran, was killed in the line of duty on June 20 after responding to reports of an armed man.
Members of the local police departments, sheriff’s department, Border Patrol and the Texas Rangers helped honor their fallen comrade.
The dedication ceremony began in the parking lot of the Mission Police Department with the sound of a bagpipe and a bass drum. As the Mission PD color guard presented the colors, Espericueta’s son, Joaquin, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sharing touching anecdotes about Espericueta were Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña, Mission City Manager Randy Perez, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez.
“I think ‘Speedy’ was a great example of a person who loved his community and loved his family, and loved what he did,” said Hinojosa during the ceremony. “It’s a great loss to us, a great loss to the family. I don’t think any words can erase their pain.”
Hinojosa presented Espericueta’s wife, Roberta “Bobbie” De Leon Espericueta, with a special resolution passed in the Texas Senate that honors and recognizes Espericueta. He also presented Espericueta’s mother, Santi Gonzalez, with a flag that had flown over the state capital in honor of Espericueta.
Then came the unveiling of the new street signs. Family members took turns unveiling each of the four signs before heading to the back parking lot of the police department where a cake and balloons that read, “Happy Birthday Speedy” were set to celebrate Espericueta’s birthday.
“I think it’s important for generations to come, as far as law enforcement is concerned, as well as the future of this community, future families to come, it’s important that they know of the sacrifices of this man and what he did for our community,” Dominguez said after the ceremony. “This is just one small token that we at the police department and the City of Mission are doing to remember him.”
Espericueta’s name now joins those of two other fallen Mission police officers, Humberto Avila and Flugencio Velasco III, whose names are memorialized on the streets east and west of the police department, Dominguez explained.
“It’s all about unity and coming together for the good of our community, the good of the Espericueta family and the good of our family here at the Mission Police Department” said Dominguez. “The most important thing is the remembrance of our hero. That’s what’s most important to me.”
Later that evening, Espericueta, a 1993 graduate of McAllen High, was also honored at the McAllen High versus Mission High football game.
With his family, members of the Mission Police Department, and members of the McAllen ISD Police Department on hand, a moment of silence was held following each teams’ alma maters and just before the national anthem.
“It’s happening because it’s McAllen High’s homecoming, and he was a McAllen High graduate,” explained McAllen ISD public information officer Mark May. “This is homecoming, when graduates will traditionally come back and revisit their school. They came up with the idea of doing a moment of silence for him. The fact that today is his birthday is extra sweet, but that part is coincidental.”