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He ‘had your back through thick and thin’

Alamogordo police officers stand guard at a vigil for fallen officer Clint Corvinus on Tuesday, Sept. 6. (Lauren Villagran/Albuquerque Journal)

Alamogordo police officers stand guard at a vigil for fallen officer Clint Corvinus on Tuesday, Sept. 6. (Lauren Villagran/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

ALAMOGORDO – After years of searching, Clint Corvinus found his life’s path in law enforcement.

That’s where friends and fellow officers say Corvinus, who was fatally shot in the line of duty last week, found his passion.

Corvinus was the kind of guy who “always had your back through thick and thin,” said Keith Hanker, a longtime friend and State Police officer.

Corvinus grew up in Alamogordo after his father, a retired Border Patrol agent, was transferred there. He attended Alamogordo High School, and friends hinted that he had a wild streak – he was a “rambunctious youth,” said Deputy Chief Roger Schoolcraft.

CORVINUS. (SOURCE: Alamogordo Police Department)

CORVINUS. (SOURCE: Alamogordo Police Department)

Corvinus worked several short-term jobs, at Wal-Mart and in construction, friends said. Hanker remembers his friend saying, “I need to do something with my life.”

Corvinus found that “something” in law enforcement. He applied to the Alamogordo Police Department. When he didn’t make it through the hiring process the first time, he tried again and succeeded, said Officer Rodney Scharmack, who worked closely with him.

“He remained diligent because he was focused on what he wanted to do,” Schoolcraft said.

“He was a guy who loved his job,” Scharmack said. “He lived for it. He died for it. Every day he showed up to work he was ready to go.”

Fugitive

Corvinus, 33, had been with the department 4½ years on Friday when, while on patrol, he recognized Joseph Moreno – a fugitive with a terrifying tattoo of a skull’s grimace across his face.

Moreno, a felon who had been in and out of prison over the past decade, faced multiple warrants for his arrest and was scheduled to go to trial in December on drug charges.

Corvinus had served as a field training officer for the past year and a half and was training another officer that morning. When Moreno pulled a gun on the men, the officer in training, Christopher Welch, fired at Moreno, who then returned fire from the ground, striking Corvinus, according to State Police.

Moreno got up and Welch pursued him, firing a fatal shot to the head.

Corvinus was taken to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

It was the second on-duty death of an officer in the state in less than a month.

Hatch police officer Jose Chavez was fatally shot during a traffic stop in August, allegedly by an Ohio fugitive wanted on murder charges in that state.

A natural

Friends and co-workers describe Corvinus as warm, “really funny” and an “outstanding officer” who was a natural at his job.

“He was a well-seasoned officer for being so young and so new to the profession but due to his maturity, he just picked it up really well,” Schoolcraft said. “He grew up around that law enforcement brotherhood mentality.”

Hanker, who would frequently team up on dangerous assignments with Corvinus, said his friend “was an outstanding officer.”

“He had good morals,” Hanker said. “He was honest. He followed the book when he had to, and he used his discretion when he was able to.”

Charlene Chavez works as an evidence technician at the Alamogordo Police Department. She described Corvinus as “somewhat quiet, at times really funny” and said, “I never once saw him in a bad mood.”

“There is still a lot of sorrow, a lot of sadness, lots of concern for his family, also,” she said.

More than 650 Alamogordo residents gathered Tuesday to hold a vigil for fallen police officer Clint Corvinus, who was killed by a suspect last week. (Lauren Villagran/Albuquerque Journal)

More than 650 Alamogordo residents gathered Tuesday to hold a vigil for fallen police officer Clint Corvinus, who was killed by a suspect last week. (Lauren Villagran/Albuquerque Journal)

A candlelight vigil for Corvinus drew more than 650 people on Tuesday to the Otero County fairgrounds, where fellow officers and community members honored him in prayer.

Police Chief Daron Syling spoke to the crowd.

“There are a lot of questions,” he said, his voice cracking. “We ask, why? Why it had to happen, how did we get here? Why was it on my watch? But I ask you, why does it take this to make us come together?”

“Our brother Clint knew that he had signed a blank check the day that he took his oath,” Syling said. “And we are here to honor that.”

Corvinus is survived by his parents, Tom and Cindy Corvinus, girlfriend Amber and 14-year-old daughter, Jessi.

A public tribute will be held at the Tays Special Events Center on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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