There might not be a more dramatic example of the dangers of police work than the shooting spree that left two sheriff’s deputies dead and a deputy and a bystander wounded Friday in Northern California.
Placer County Deputy Michael David Davis Jr. was slain — 26 years to the day after his father was killed in the line of duty. His father, a Riverside County deputy, lost his life in a helicopter crash during a narcotics task force operation on Oct. 24, 1988.
Though last week’s tragedy didn’t take place in our community, we should still take time to contemplate the harrowing life-and-death nature that our public-safety officers face and be grateful for the men and women who step up to do this job.
Davis, 42, is survived by his wife and four children. He worked for the Auburn Police Department for three years before joining the Placer County Sheriff’s Office in 1999.
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Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver, 47, a husband and a father of two daughters, also was killed. The 15-year veteran was described by fellow deputies as a model officer.
Oliver approached a car off Sacramento’s Arden Way where an AR-15 rifle-bearing gunman shot him in the head. Imagine the bravery these deputies exhibit every day. For an officer to die in a motel parking lot for no known reason is a tawdry backdrop for indescribable courage. That assault weapons remain on the streets is a travesty.
Following this crime, the gunman and his female companion set off on a carjacking spree, leading schools into lockdown. This swath of fear ended because more brave officers put their lives on the line, as they do each and every day, with the arrest in Auburn of Marcelo Marquez, 34.
Officers take their share of criticism. Second-guessing comes with police work. But ask the thousands of citizens who were terrified across two counties, in homes and schools and stores, if these officers’ sacrifices made them feel like someone was on their side.
What two deputies gave was something that the average citizen cannot. The courage all the officers and deputies exhibited Friday was a gift to their communities.
The rest of us throughout California can give one thing: heartfelt, fervent thanks for those who keep us safe.
Early Tuesday a Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy, Eugene Kostiuchenko, was instantly killed after he was struck by a passing vehicle during a traffic stop on the northbound 101 Freeway. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Kostiuchenko, 41, is survived by his wife and two sons.
And early Wednesday morning, Pomona police officer Shaun Diamond, 45, lost his life after being hit with a shotgun blast Tuesday.
Diamond was the first officer to enter a San Gabriel residence as part of a regional SWAT team attempting to serve a warrant on a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle gang. He was hit above his bullet-proof vest, authorities said.
In death, Diamond, a 16-year law-enforcement veteran, donated his organs. He previously had donated a kidney to his son.
Each time an officer starts his shift, he or she does so knowing that what might appear to be routine can turn deadly in a split second.