Floyd East Jr. lived in Texas, but he loved the ocean.
The remains of the Texas Tech University Police Department officer, shot and killed Oct. 9 in his department office while questioning of a suspect, have been laid to rest in the Atlantic Ocean just miles off St. Augustine.
The ashes of the police officer were incorporated into a 3,800-pound reef ball made by Eternal Reefs of Sarasota. At 10 a.m. Monday, the St. Augustine Police Department and East's family, joined by members of the St. Johns County and Jacksonville sheriff's offices and many other agencies, led a boat procession to drop the reef ball into the ocean offshore.
In a way, new life will blossom from death on the ocean bottom as Officer East is honored, said St. Augustine Police Department community affairs Officer Off. Dee Brown, who helped organize the Monday memorial.
"The emotions were very high, and we had about 25 agencies that volunteered to help," Brown said. "Through each officer, we never know if we will make it home each day, so for these officers to honor him and send him off properly was very emotional."
Texas Tech University officers were sent to do a welfare check on a freshman student about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 9, after his family called in concerned he was suicidal and possibly had a weapon, according to police. The man was brought to the police station for questioning, and was not handcuffed when he shot East in the head with a .45 caliber pistol as the officer was doing paperwork, police said. The man stole East's bodycam and fled, police said.
Hollis Daniels of San Antonio was arrested and charged with capital murder of a peace officer, and remains at the Lubbock County jail on $5 million bail, police said.
East had been a member of the university police for five months, and is survived by his wife, Carmen, and two daughters. He wasn't from Northeast Florida. But he so loved the sea that he had spoken about being buried there. He even found Eternal Reefs' website and told his wife he liked the idea of being a "home for 'Fishy’s' as he helped rebuild damaged reefs, according to a family statement.
"Anytime he could, he’d be close to the water. Months before he died, he talked about being buried at sea," the statement reads in part. " ... After his death, Carmen wanted to fulfill Floyd’s wishes and remembered “Eternal Reefs." She decided on St. Augustine because it possessed qualities Floyd treasured."
Eternal Reefs incorporated his ashes into an urn-shaped reef ball with a plaque on one side that reads "Officer Floyd East Jr. "Wow, what a ride!," and "E.O.W (End of Watch), Oct. 9, 2017." Also layered into the concrete that contains his ashes is a Texas Tech Police Department honor coin with his shield number, and a university uniform patch.
"We are honored that so many of his fellow brothers and their families have paid tribute to him. It will never be forgotten," the family statement said. "Thank you, Chief Fox and the St. Augustine Police Department, for planning such a beautiful farewell for Floyd. ... To all the Law Enforcement Agencies that participated, thank you for taking time from your duties to be part of the memorial."
On its Facebook page, Eternal Reefs said what an "incredible honor" it was to work with East's family and police to memorialize him.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549