Tyler church rallies around family of fallen sheriff’s deputy

Friendly Baptist Church in Tyler is rallying around the family of Lorenzo Bustos, a Smith County Sheriff's Office deputy who was killed in the line of duty July 29. COURTESY PHOTOS

TYLER—Smith County Sheriff’s Office personnel remember Deputy Lorenzo Bustos, who died last week in the line of duty, for his big smile and positive attitude—attributes also noticed by members of Friendly Baptist Church in Tyler, where Bustos and his family have been active members since 2015.

Now the church has established a memorial fund to help the family of the 29-year-old deputy who was killed during a routine traffic stop in the early morning hours of Friday, July 29.

Bustos’ children are 4, 5, and 8 years old.

“I was initially struck by the kindness in Lorenzo’s face and the genuineness of his smile, and I was looking forward to investing in his life,” said Dan Lewis, pastor of Friendly Baptist since March 2022.

Bustos had a significant “impact on our church family,” the pastor said, noting that the deputy and his wife, Gloria, started actively serving in GAs and RAs shortly after joining the church in May 2015.

Bustos had become a follower of Christ after a co-worker from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, where Bustos then served as a correctional officer, invited him to Friendly Baptist. Bustos had recently asked one of the pastors to help him deepen his walk with Christ and they two planned to meet for personal discipleship, Lewis noted.

Bustos died at the end of his shift as a Smith County Sheriff’s Office trainee as he stood behind his patrol car during the traffic stop. A 21-year-old driver was arrested for intoxication manslaughter, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told news outlets.

Bustos had been working at the sheriff’s office less than six months after previously working for other law enforcement agencies, including the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and the Henderson Police Department. He had quickly bonded with his new Tyler colleagues.

“He had come to be very loved by all of his cohorts and co-workers,” Smith told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “He was doing a great job.”

He will be missed greatly at his church as well, Lewis said. A post on the church’s Facebook page the afternoon of the deputy’s death requested prayer for the Bustos family, friends, and coworkers, and announced the establishment of the memorial fund to assist the family with funeral and related expenses.

“We established the fund because we knew many would want to help this precious family during this difficult time of life. Consequently, many in our community have also stepped in to financially support them,” Lewis said, encouraging those who wish to donate to select the “Lorenzo Bustos Memorial” link from the dropdown menu on the donations page.

Funds will be funneled through the church to an account for the family at Southside Bank of Tyler.

Bustos is survived by his wife and their three children; his parents, Martin and Rosa Bustos; a sister, and two brothers.

This article contains reporting from the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

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