(Courtesy: Gwinnett County Police Department)
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A sad update to a story FOX 5 News first reported at the beginning of the year. A Gwinnett County Police Department detective and former Army Ranger who had been battling stage IV cancer has died.
The Gwinnett County Police Department made the announcement Tuesday that Officer Victor Cortez passed away over the weekend after a 7-month battle with cancer.
Cortez was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer that spread to his lungs in July after going to the doctor thinking he had pneumonia. The 4-year veteran officer stepped back from his duties in the gang unit to focus on his fight, but his brothers and sister in blue never stepped back from him.
“The support from everyone we know has been humbling and has helped me during my dark days,” Cortez told FOX 5’s Natalie Fultz at the start of the year. “They have been amazing, so supportive, everything you could ask for.”
Fellow officers organized a 5K to raise money for his medical expenses. They remember Cortez as a kind man who always had a smile on his face.
“This exceptional officer, army veteran, loving husband, father of two, and great friend will be tremendously missed. 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,” said Lt.Edward Restrepo, Cortez’s supervisor at the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Cortez, a native of Tucson, Arizona, traveled the world thanks to his father’s job as a DEA Special Agent. When he turned 20, Cortez enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served with the 1st Ranger Battalion. He as deployed three times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
In 2006, he received an honorable discharge and moved to DC to finish his B.A. in Administration of Justice from George Mason University, which he received just three short years later.
Cortez leaves behind his wife, who was also his high school sweetheart. The couple had two children together, 2 years old and 5 months old.
Visitation will be held Feb. 1 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Services will be held at the Wages and Sons Funeral Home at 1031 Lawrenceville Highway in Lawrenceville and is open to the public. A private memorial will be held for immediate family and friends on Friday.
Donations can still be made online to help offset his medical expenses. The family asks in lieu of flower to donate to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in memory of Victor Cortez.