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Honoring his memory and dedication to law enforcement, the family of fallen Frio County Deputy Justin Longoria presented the first scholarship to Sam Lopez last week.
Lopez, who has served as an animal control officer for the past two years, will use the scholarship towards her journey of becoming a police officer.
Prior to working with the city as the animal control officer, Lopez worked as a Frio County dispatcher, a job she claims triggered her love for law enforcement.
At the same time, the scholarship will honor the legacy left by Corporal Longoria before his premature death in April.
The 24-year-old corporal detective was on his way to work during the early hours of Sunday, April 11, when his car collided with a freight trailer near the Pearsall exit on IH-35.
The Justin M. Longoria Memorial Scholarship is awarded to those who are pursuing their education in law enforcement.
“I know my handsome son Justin is smiling down from heaven,” Ruby Longoria said. “He always wanted to help everyone and this is a special way to do so.”
Longoria graduated from the police academy in 2017 and immediately became an officer for the city of Dilley. He was hired as a deputy with the Frio County Sheriff’s Office and earned a number of promotions.
“My brother Justin was a talented local officer and loved being an investigator,” Frio County Lt. Joshua Longoria said of his younger brother. “I know he would want to help support local officers. So this scholarship is a way to do so.”
Lopez expressed her gratitude to the Longoria and Maldonado families and their decision to present her with the first scholarship in Justin’s honor.
“I am very much honored to be the first recipient,” Lopez said. “Justin was a good friend with a kind soul and for his family to choose me makes me push myself even harder to accomplish this goal of mine. I know how much law enforcement is dear to them and I want to make Justin, the Longoria family and my family proud of me.”
Lopez attends the Southwest Texas Junior College law enforcement academy.