By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
Occasionally, sports helps people cope with tragedy. And just as often, law enforcement officers and first responders need the same closure pursued by grieving families.
The homicide of Steiner Elementary School student Lorenzo Cabral Jr. was just such an event. Less than one month after his death, the Portales police and fire departments are holding a basketball game to benefit and honor the 6-year-old and his family.
The benefit basketball game will pit the police against the fire department at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Portales High School gymnasium. Donations will be taken at the door.
“We thought we could do something there at the school so that the other kids would have a way to remember their friend,” Portales Police Department Capt. Lonnie Berry said. “It’s really difficult for a child and the kids he went to school with (to deal with a loss). He was at school one day, and the next day he’s not there.”
Berry also hopes the event will bring a sense of closure to the public servants who have so diligently worked the case.
“The idea of the benefit was really kind of a way just to help us put some closure to the case,” Berry said.
Portales officer Kirk Wilson, who is participating in Saturday’s event, praises the ability of the Portales police department and fire department to work together for such a cause.
“It’s like nothing else I’ve ever seen,” Wilson said. “I originally came from California, and the police department and fire department there are very goal oriented to their own goals, and they don’t work well together. (Here) I was absolutely blown away.
We actually work fairly seamlessly, very much on the same page.”
Cabral’s mother, Teresa K. Gilman, 24, of Portales was charged with his death. The preliminary autopsy report indicated the cause of death as severe head injury, but could not rule out drowning as a contributing factor.
“We want people to come watch a game, and if you can donate whatever you can donate,” Berry said. “(We want to be able to) put a piece of equipment on the playground or put something in the school that when the kids walk by it they can see it and remember Lorenzo.”