McALLEN — Local musicians will be putting on a virtual fundraiser Saturday for the families of McAllen police officers Edelmiro “Eddie” Garza Jr. and Ismael “Smiley” Chavez Jr., who were shot and killed over the weekend.
Hillbilly’s will host the concert and it will stream live on their Facebook page. Local artists Matt Castillo, Joe Vega from Midnight Run and Andrew Maldonado from Drew and the Dancehall Dreamers will perform.
In addition to being musicians, Vega serves as an Edinburg police officer and Maldonado as a Willacy County sheriff’s deputy.
Robert Martinez, general manager at Hillbilly’s, says he and the staff at the dance hall felt the need to give back after Chavez and Garza were killed in a July 11 ambush-style shooting when responding to a domestic disturbance at a McAllen residence.
“My uncle used to actually work as a McAllen police officer years back. We’ve been in business going on 32 years, and obviously we’ve always counted on McAllen PD for whenever we need their help for certain things and stuff like that, so we just felt that we just always have to give back when we can,” Martinez said.
While Martinez says he doesn’t personally know the families of the officers, he believes extra money could only help them through the struggle of losing a loved one.
“To lose a family member, there’s a lot of expenses that come with that, and then there’s a loss of an income for the family. Any help that they can get I’m sure would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
Precautions set in place because of the COVID-19 outbreak currently raging in the Rio Grande Valley prevent a more traditional, in-person benefit, but Martinez says Saturday’s show will be an opportunity to approximate that while staying safe.
“This pandemic has everybody pretty much stuck at home,” he said. “What we’re going to be doing here is going to be completely online, so people won’t be able to experience the music live with full bands and stuff like that, but this lets people mourn and support the police officers and at the same time get a little entertainment while they’re stuck at home.”
According to Martinez, funds raised from the event will be donated to the McAllen Guns and Hoses Foundation, which has already raised close to $60,000 for the families of Chavez and Garza through a GoFundMe page.
“Anybody can logon to Facebook and watch it, and we’ll be accepting donations via Cashapp or Venmo,” Martinez said. “Everybody that donates will be entered into a drawing to win a guitar autographed by the musicians that are going to be there that day.”