Memorial held for man reportedly shot on border |

Memorial held for man reportedly shot on border

About 400 friends and family attend the memorial service for David Hartley on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colo. Tiffany Hartley says her husband was shot on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake on Sept. 30. Authorities have not yet found Hartley's body. (AP Photo/Fort Collins Coloradoan, Dawn Madura)
AP | The Fort Collins Coloradoan

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A Texas lawmaker said Sunday that the death of an American tourist reportedly shot and killed by Mexican pirates on a border lake will be remembered as he fights to secure the border.

Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn’s letter to Tiffany Hartley was read during a memorial service for her husband, 30-year-old David Hartley. Mexican officials suspended the search for Hartley’s body on Oct. 14.

“The loss of your husband will not be in vain,” said the letter, which was read by Timberline Church Pastor Chris Johnson during Sunday’s service. “It will be remembered when we are fighting to end violence on the border.”

About 400 friends and relatives gathered at the memorial in Fort Collins to remember Hartley, a former bull rider and raiser of prize steers who worked as a district manager for an oil and gas drilling company.

Tiffany Hartley says she and her husband were returning to the United States on Jet Skis on Sept. 30 when pirates from the Mexican half of Falcon Lake opened fire, shooting David in the back of the head.

Tiffany Hartley says she narrowly escaped with her life after attempting to save her husband as men on three speedboats fired their guns.

Austin, Texas-based public policy research group Stratfor, which analyzes the Mexican drug war, has suggested that the Hartleys were mistaken for drug runners.

Friends and family on Sunday described Hartley as a prankster who matured into a compassionate, respectful and hardworking man who rose quickly through the ranks of his company.

“Thank you for taming the man he was and turning him into the type of man that he was today,” his sister, Nikki Hartley, said to Tiffany Hartley.

Photos of Hartley and relics of his life were shown on a screen and displayed in the hallways and on a stage at the church: A yellow Indian motorcycle, photos of animals shot during hunting trips, a scuba diving vacation to Cancun, caps and cowboy hats that he liked to wear.

Cousin Melody Hood described growing up with Hartley on their grandfather’s farm that included cow pie fights with hubcaps as shields and a boisterousness Hartley chasing her and others with a BB gun. But most spoke about Hartley’s Christian faith and his love for his wife.

“It was always ‘Tiffany and I,”‘ recalled friend Todd Studer. “It was David’s contentment that he loved this woman.”

Johnson, the pastor, recalled that Hartley’s proposal to his wife included flying her to Vail, taking her to dinner and then going on a carriage ride before proposing on bended knee.

The Hartleys lived in the Mexican border city of Reynosa until recently, when David Hartley’s employer, an oil and gas company, decided it was too dangerous for the couple to live there.

A report from Stratfor says the Hartleys’ truck holding the Jet Skis had Tamaulipas, Mexico, license plates, which may have led pirates or drug gangsters to think they were from a rival gang.

Tamaulipas state is the center of a violent rivalry between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, a brutal drug gang made up of former Mexican special forces soldiers. The search for Hartley’s body had been hampered by threats of an ambush from drug gangs, presumably the Zetas.

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