A former first responder created a unique tribute for Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander and the officers killed in the 2016 Downtown Dallas ambush.
The retired squad car with the six officers' names will serve as a touring tribute. But it was an idea the creator from Denton began working on nearly two years ago.
It was at Thursday night’s vigil for Santander that a surprise delivery arrived for Dallas police. It was one nearly two years in the making.
Far outside the metroplex's urban jungle is a warehouse that looks more like a firehouse. Billy Longo and his CEO, Probie, started the business buying, restoring and then selling fire trucks when the economy took a turn for the south.
The business pays, but it’s also a way to get back to a job he loved as a firefighter and first responder.
“I'm too old to fight fires anymore. I would have a heart attack,” he said. “But I can put the guys in a good truck and let the young guys go do it.”
Over the years, Longo’s yard has been graced by all sorts of other vehicles. But few have been more special than an old police squad car that came into his possession a few years ago. A short time later, the Downtown Dallas ambush changed law enforcement in Dallas forever.
“When the Dallas police officers a couple years ago got ambushed, I was like let’s make a tribute car and we'll do something cool with it,” he recalled.
Longo and his guys fixed up the car. His friends donated time and money wrapping it with the badges and names of the five officers killed in the line of duty.
Except for a trip out, the car sat in the warehouse until a friend at Dallas PD called Longo on Tuesday about the recent Home Depot shooting. So this time, Longo and co-worker Duke Scott drove the more than hour-long drive to bring the tribute car to Thursday’s vigil and gave it to the Dallas Police Association.
After days of sorrow, many people are finding ways to express their appreciation. Longo still insists what he and his guys did isn't special. They're just refurbishers who are restoring some happiness.
“We did something that was positive in a negative situation,” he said. “That's the way I look at it.”
Longo hopes the police union can use the car for fundraisers and other events.