RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina's legislators often draw hard lines in the ideological sand over some issues, but representatives from both sides of the aisle agree the Gabe Torres Act deserves unanimous support. Backers of the bill want to honor Officer Gabe Torres, the Raleigh lawman killed by a mass shooter last October.
"What would normally be a routine day turned into a real life nightmare. We went from a family of three to an army of two," said his widow, Jasmin Torres. Their daughter, a toddler, played with some toys inside the General Assembly's press room while her mother, flanked by several lawmakers, spoke with reporters.
"She's the reason why I stand here. She's the reason why her father decided his career path," Torres said as she fought back tears while recalling the events of that day. "I was the first responding person. And I felt so alone."
Even worse, she learned later that the fact that her husband died as he prepared to drive to work had a chilling effect on her ability to get death benefits. But several legislators and police advocacy organizations came to her aid, and helped to develop the act named for her husband.
"I have found family in new faces. My parenting skills are honed daily. All this to say, I an surviving. I am putting one foot in front of the other," she said.
The Gabe Torres Act expands the eligibility of public safety workers to receive death benefits when, for example, they're killed on their way to work.
"Our current line of duty death benefit requirements reads incomplete. Change is crucial, change is warranted. All it takes is adding a few words. Let's change the law," his widow said. "Let's get the Gabe Torres Act onto the House floor. Let's ensure that no other first responder family in this state is left with uncertainty."
We'll update the progress of the pending tribute as it makes its way through the General Assembly.