San Marcos officer killed in the line of duty: What we know

Officer Kenneth Copeland, 58.
↓ Advertisement ↓

While out serving a warrant Dec. 4, San Marcos police officer Kenneth Copeland was killed after a man allegedly shot him multiple times.

Fifty-eight-year-old Copeland was wearing a protective vest while serving warrant in the El Camino Real subdivision, the city of San Marcos said. It was described as an ambush-style shooting. 

Copeland, who was the first San Marcos officer to be killed in the line of duty, was taken to Central Texas Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds. Justice of the Peace JoAnne Prado pronounced him deceased at 3:50 p.m. that day.

San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp said San Marcos police officers and the Hays County SWAT tried to negotiate with the suspect to get him out of the house peacefully. The suspect eventually came out of his house and surrendered to officers, but suffered a gunshot wound. It is not known if the suspect's gunshot wound was self-inflicted or if police shot him.

↓ Advertisement ↓

The suspect was taken to an Austin hospital for treatment and will be released into police custody when he is medically stable. 

Following the shooting, the officer's body was taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner's office.

Fallen officer escorted from Austin to San Marcos

On Tuesday Dec. 5, Copeland's body was escorted from Austin to the Thomason Funeral Home in San Marcos at 3:30 p.m.

Several vehicles from local law enforcement agencies and fire departments contributed in the escort, which traveled along southbound Interstate 35 to San Marcos.

Arrest warrant issued

Wednesday afternoon, Stewart Thomas Mettz was charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Officer Copeland.

According to arrest warrants, Copeland went to the house of 51-year-old Mettz to serve a domestic violence warrant when he was shot several times. Mettz admitted to shooting one of the officers in the chest twice and informed officers he was also shot.

Mettz was taken to the hospital for his injuries and is in fair condition, according to hospital officials. Mettz is still in the hospital as of Thursday morning, but he is in the custody of the Hays County Jail. 

Who is Officer Kenneth Copeland?

Copeland, who joined the San Marcos Police Department March 30, 1998, had served with the department for 19 years and 9 months. He leaves behind a wife and four sons.

San Marcos Police Department mourns their loss

San Marcos Police Chief Stapp said Copeland was the first officer in the city's history to be killed in the line of duty. 

"I want to offer my thanks to all of the members of the Central Texas Medical Center who tried very hard to save Ken's life," said Chief Stapp. "They are a part of our family as well and they did a great job."

Chief Stapp said the loss of Officer Copeland is painful for many in the police department.

"Ken's a hero. Today was his day off. He worked just about every day off to provide for his kids and because he knows we're shorthanded and we need the help," said Chief Stapp. "His picture is hanging in different parts of this police department because everyone here loved him."

Funeral service set

A visitation will be held for Copeland Dec. 12 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Thomason Funeral Home in San Marcos located at 2001 Ranch Road 12. His funeral will take place in San Antonio at Community Bible Church Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. The church is located at 2477 North Loop 1604 East.

Family speaks out on suspect Stewart Mettz

In an interview with KVUE on Dec. 6, Mettz' stepson, 21-year-old Chase Moore, said that he was "drawn into the situation" of Mettz and his mother's divorce.

"I’ve seen how violent and how physically mad and stuff they were getting about it, and I just really didn’t want to get at the middle of it, so I moved back to Mississippi about two weeks ago,” Moore said.

Moore stated that he lived about 15 minutes from Mettz and his mother, Candace, for about six months. He said he moved to San Marcos in order to get to know his mother better, as he said he hadn't really been around her growing up.

"I moved there and we spent a lot of time together," Moore said. "We went kayaking and fishing together. Me, Tom, my mom, everything was fine. Didn’t really see anything out of the ordinary.”

They started having differences when Mettz would drink at night and play guitar, which Moore said bothered his grandmother. He said she eventually started urging his mother to divorce Mettz.

Moore said his mother told him she was trying to divorce Mettz and get him arrested, but after hearing Mettz' side of the story, he said he didn't know who to believe.

"I knew he was off, he used to be in the military, he has PTSD, he’s really nervous about somebody breaking into his house or going into his room -- he’s really nervous in that aspect," Moore said. "I never really thought it was that serious, and I never thought that he was that type of person -- a violent person."