A bright personality known to crack jokes and display a smile is the image many in the tight-knit Kyle Police community Monday remember as they honor Officer Fernando Solis.
Even as the circumstances surrounding his tragic death remain under investigation, Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said his staff intends to honor the memory of Solis, while also try to heal a “hole in our family.”
“We have many unanswered questions,” Barnett said in a statement. “But what we need right now is to come together as a family to help, to listen, to heal, and to keep moving forward to serve the residents of Kyle.”
Solis, 28, of Kyle, died Sept. 16 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a city of San Marcos press release. Officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to the Ashbury Place Apartments, located in the 1300 block of Wonder World Drive, around 5 p.m. Sunday for a report of a man who had been shot and was dead.
The victim, later identified as Solis, was found in his vehicle with an apparent self-inflicted wound, according to the release. Solis was off-duty at the time of his death.
Kim Hilsenbeck, Kyle communications specialist, said the city’s hearts “are heavy today” and that San Marcos Police informed Kyle authorities of Solis’ death.
“Losing a co-worker and fellow law enforcement officer is akin to losing a family member, regardless of the circumstances,” Hilsenbeck said. She added that San Marcos Police are investigating the incident.
Barnett said all Kyle Police staff should take time to reflect on what happened and “talk with a counselor or a member of the clergy if they desire.”
Kyle city staff has access to the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)team, which provides psychological first aid for first responders following a traumatic incident or event.
The CISM, whose founder is Kyle’s current Victim Services Coordinator, was dispatched in late 2017 following the shooting death of San Marcos Police Officer Kenneth Copeland.
Kyle Police also has a chaplain program, where officers can talk with a member of the clergy. Kyle has an employee assistance program free for its staff.
“We know this is a difficult time for Solis’ family and his work family,” Barnett said.
The department has also seen an outpouring of support from the community and area law enforcement and emergency service entities.
The Kyle Fire Department along with the San Marcos Hays County EMS expressed condolences to Kyle Police via Twitter late Sunday. San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp expressed his departmetn’s condolences to Solis’ family and Kyle Police Monday.
“Kyle PD is grateful to all the individuals and agencies that reached out during this difficult time with their condolences and offers of support,” Barnett said. “It means a lot to all of us.”
Prior to his hire with Kyle Police, Solis, a 2008 Hays High graduate, worked at H-E-B for several years before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.
During his time in the military, Solis served as a motor vehicle operator from 2011 until his honorable discharge in 2015.
Solis was a father of two young sons who are 2 years old and 6 years old. Barnett said Kyle Police has extended its condolences to Solis’ family.
“We are grateful for the time that Fernando was able to be a part of the family of brothers and sisters in blue,” Barnett said.