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Twenty Year Anniversary of Irving Officer Aubrey Hawkins Line-of-Duty Death

BY ERNESTO GARCIA

Irving, Texas. December 24, 2020

Twenty years ago, Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins, badge 830, was brutally murdered when he responded to a suspicious circumstance call at the Oshman's Sporting Goods in Irving, Texas. Seven escaped convicts were in the midst of committing an aggravated robbery and ambushed Officer Hawkins, killing him before he could get out of his police car. Today, the Irving Police Department remembers their brother and honor his sacrifice.

"The Hawkins family will forever be in our hearts. We will never forget", said an IPD statement.

Aubrey Hawkins, Badge 830
End of Watch: 12-24-2000

Two suspects are still on death row now twenty-years later. 

What happened?

On December 19, four members of the Texas Seven, as they were labeled, checked into an Econo Lodge motel in Farmers Branch, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, under assumed names. They decided to rob an Oshman's Sporting Goods in nearby Irving. On December 24, 2000, they entered the store, bound and gagged all the staff and stole at least 40 guns and sets of ammunition. An off-duty employee standing outside of the store noticed the commotion inside and called police. Irving police officer Aubrey Wright Hawkins (February 23, 1971 – December 24, 2000) responded to the call, and upon arriving at the scene was almost immediately ambushed, being shot 11 times and run over by the escaped convicts as they fled the scene. Hawkins died at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas shortly after his arrival. Hawkins had been an officer with the Irving police department since October 4, 1995, and was married and had a son.

After Officer Hawkins' murder, a $100,000 reward was offered to whoever could snare the group of criminals. The reward climbed to $500,000 before the six surviving members of the group were apprehended.

Following an episode of the television show America's Most Wanted, that first aired on January 20, 2001, several people phoned in possible sightings of the suspects at the Coachlight Motel and R.V. Park in Woodland Park, Colorado. They had apparently tried to pass themselves off as missionaries.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Colorado, and Teller County Deputies SWAT team found Garcia, Rodriguez, and Rivas in a Jeep Cherokee in the RV Park, before following them to a nearby gas station where they were arrested, and later found Halprin and Harper in an RV; Halprin surrendered peacefully, but Harper was found dead after a standoff, having shot himself in the chest with a pistol. The surviving four were taken into federal custody.

On January 23, 2001, the FBI received information that the remaining two escapees, Newbury and Murphy, were hiding in a Holiday Inn in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A deal was brokered with the two, allowing them to make live TV appearances before they were arrested. In the early hours of January 24, a local KRDO television anchorman, Eric Singer, was taken into the hotel where he interviewed the two by telephone while on camera. Newbury and Murphy harshly denounced the criminal justice system in Texas, with Newbury adding "the system is as corrupt as we are."

The six surviving members of the Texas Seven were sentenced to death.   Michael Rodriguez was executed Aug 14, 2008.  George Rivas was excuted Feb. 29, 2012.  Donald Newbury was executed by lethal injection Feb 4, 2015.  Joseph Garcia was executed by lethal injection Dec 4, 2018.  Randy Halprin and Patrick Murphy Jr are incarcerated in death row.  

Halprin was scheduled to be executed on October 10, 2019. However, his execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on October 4, 2019, due to concerns of racial and religious discrimination from his trial judge since Halprin is Jewish and the trial judge had been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks. 

Murphy was scheduled to be executed in March 2019, but two hours before the scheduled time his attorney argued he should have been allowed to have a Buddhist spiritual advisor with him in the execution room.  After the Texas Department of Corrections denied Murphy’s choice of a Buddhist monk in the execution room, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a stay. 

Neither Halprin nor Murphy currently have an execution date.  

BY ERNESTO GARCIA | Bio

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