SAN MARCOS, Texas — On April 18, Officer Justin Putnam's family knew he died even before getting the phone call.
“If anything would happen, mom would always get a text from him and he would always say, ‘Mom, I’m OK but you’re going to see something on the news soon, but just know I’m OK,'" Kelsea Putnam, Justin's sister, told KVUE. "Then we see it on the news and we haven’t gotten a text from him, so we kind of knew.”
Officer Putnam died responding to a domestic disturbance call.
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The shooter, preliminarily identified as 46-year-old Alfredo Perez Delacruz, ambushed Officer Putnam and two other responding officers: Officer Franco Stewart and Officer Justin Mueller. Stewart and Mueller were wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment.
"[Justin Putnam] was born to be in this line of work – always a protector since the day I was born," Kelsea Putnam said. "He took the role seriously. He was like a second dad."
Kelsea Putnam, eight years younger than her oldest brother, remembers Justin as a protector, but also someone to always make the family laugh.
“He was just the light of my life," Kelsea Putnam said. "He was hilarious. Whenever I was with him, you know you could look at him and laugh. He cared about so many people. He was such a family man.”
Officer Putnam was engaged to be married in November 2020.
"He loved his fiancée and he loved his dogs. That was their family," Kelsea Putnam said.
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As evidence of Officer Putnam being a protector, Kelsea Putnam remembered a specific instance from when she was 10 years old.
"I walked outside to grab something ... it was nighttime and I heard something by the fence and I got so scared. I thought it was a person. I could’ve sworn I saw a person running," Kelsea Putnam said. "I immediately ran inside and [Justin] told me to go to my room and he grabbed a knife and went outside. He just always wanted to protect me.”
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Officer Putnam served with San Marcos police for five-and-a-half years and has a family history in law enforcement, according to the city of San Marcos.
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