Honoring a hero took precedence over politics this week for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis had been scheduled to speak Sunday at a $25,000-a-plate event in support of Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who is challenging Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to the New York Post.
However, he canceled his trip.
“An unforeseen tragedy forced Governor DeSantis to reschedule his trip to New York,” Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said Sunday, according to the Post.
The Post reported that Zeldon told attendees at the event that Perez had been part of DeSantis’s security detail.
On Aug. 2, Perez was responding to a call when he was struck by Javier Sandoval, 35, in Miami. Sandoval was later arrested and faces multiple charges. Perez died on Aug. 20.
“Today we mourn the tragic loss of FDLE Special Agent Jose Perez, who died in the line of duty,” Florida first lady Casey DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “With over 20 years in the U.S. armed forces & more than 30 years in law enforcement, he lived a valiant life serving our nation & state. The entire @fdlepio community is in our prayers.”
Today we mourn the tragic loss of FDLE Special Agent Jose Perez, who died in the line of duty. With over 20 years in the U.S. armed forces & more than 30 years in law enforcement, he lived a valiant life serving our nation & state. The entire @fdlepio community is in our prayers. pic.twitter.com/uLabr70SJh
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) August 29, 2022
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DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske confirmed the governor was attending the Monday services, according to Politico.
DeSantis, Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody were all at the church where Perez’s funeral was held, WSVN reported
On Friday, DeSantis had issued an order that Florida fly flags at half-staff Monday in honor of Perez.
NEW: Gov. Ron DeSantis attended a funeral today for Florida law enforcement agent Jose Perez who died in the line of dutyhttps://t.co/5mTdTGxzpE
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) August 29, 2022
“On Saturday, August 20, 2022, Special Agent Jose Perez passed away 17 days after sustaining injuries from a vehicle crash while responding to a building alarm. Special Agent Perez joined the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after retiring as a major from the Miami Police Department in 2018, serving over 26 years. Before serving in law enforcement, Perez served in the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, and the United States Army over the course of 21 years. He will be remembered for his dedication to public service as well as his sacrifice for the people of Florida and the United States of America,” the order said.
RIGHT NOW: Funeral procession for Special Agent Jose Perez, who died after over 21 years of service. He died from injuries sustained after a car accident while in the line of duty. He fought for his life for more than two weeks and died Saturday, survived by his wife and 3 girls. pic.twitter.com/GupkhBx583
— Xochitl Hernández 🇲🇽 (@xochimilcatv) August 29, 2022
“Dear Dad,” she said, “When I grew up you were my best friend.
“Once I started getting older, we started going to soccer games. You are the bravest and most dedicated person I will ever meet in my life and your actions and your life are a testament to that. You have three strong daughters and I know I will continue to put my head down and work for the rest of my life to become an example for you.”
Kaitlyn Perez said she was told her father will be honored with a purple cross medal.
Biscayne Park Police Chief Luis Cabrera said Perez “was valiant. He did not live in fear. He lived life fearlessly. Jose served and protected those who could not protect themselves.”