Gwinnett County, GA – Gwinnett County Police Detective Victor Cortez died on Jan. 28, seven months after he was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV stomach cancer.
“I know it’s one of those totally unpredictable things and really, at the end of the day…I’ll keep fighting and joking while I [do],” Det. Cortez told the Gwinnett Daily Post soon after his diagnosis. “Even if I’m dying tomorrow, I’m still going to be playing a joke somehow — it’s who I am.”
The 35-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger is survived by his wife, Jessica, his 2-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, and his 5-month-old son, Lucas, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
According to WSB, he and Jessica were high school sweethearts.
“This exceptional officer, Army veteran, loving husband, father of two and great friend will be tremendously missed,” Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) Lieutenant Edward Restrepo, said in a department release, according to WSB. “Anyone who was fortunate to cross paths with him can attest to what a truly special individual he was. This place will never be the same without him.”
Det. Cortez received his diagnosis in July, 2017, when he went to a doctor for what he believed was a case of pneumonia. Instead, doctors told him he had late-stage stomach cancer, which had spread to his lungs, WAGA reported.
Although the news forced him to step back from his duties with the department, Det. Cortez remained positive, and received an outpouring of support from his colleagues, family, friends, and his community.
“The support from everyone we know has been humbling and has helped me during my dark days,” Det. Cortez told WAGA in January. “They have been amazing, so supportive, everything you could ask for.”
Det. Cortez, the son of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, had been with the GCPD for four years, and was a member of the department’s gang unit.
Prior to his career in law enforcement, the former Army Ranger served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He joined the military at the age of 20, and was honorably discharged in 2006.
Det. Cortez then enrolled at George Mason University, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice in 2009 in just three years, WAGA reported.
His supporters initiated a Go Fund Me campaign, which has received nearly $46,000 in donations over the past month.
Det. Cortez’s Feb. 1 funeral service will be open to the public, and his family requested that any donations in his honor be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Det. Victor Cortez, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here.
Thank you for your service.