San Jose police are grieving over the loss of a fellow officer who was gunned down Tuesday while responding to a call.
The death of Officer Michael Johnson, a 14-year veteran, was taking a toll on other officers, who considered him a brother, they said Wednesday.
“Officer Johnson was tragically struck down in the prime of his life while protecting and serving the residents of San Jose,” the San Jose Police Officers’ Assn. said in a statement.
Johnson, a field training officer, is the 12th San Jose police officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1849. He is the first to be killed since 2001, when Officer Jeffrey Fontana, a 24-year-old rookie, was fatally shot, according to the department.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Nicole, and his parents, Katherine Decker and Daniel Johnson, who released a statement Wednesday.
“We are deeply saddened by his loss and cannot express in writing how deep a hole in our hearts we are left with by his passing,” they said, adding he was “our husband, son, brother, uncle and hero.”
Johnson’s death has resonated with law enforcement agencies across the state, who offered support and condolences to the San Jose Police Department.
San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said Johnson’s “service and sacrifice represents the very best of our profession.”
Gov. Jerry Brown said that Capitol flags would be flown at half-staff in honor of Johnson, who Brown said “will be remembered for his courage and dedicated service.”
Police said Johnson was killed by Scott Dunham, 57, after he and fellow officers arrived about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment complex in east San Jose in response to a call reporting a man who was drunk, despondent and possibly armed.
A family member feared that Dunham may harm someone because he had access to weapons, said police Chief Larry Esquivel.
When officers approached the apartment complex, Dunham opened fire and struck Johnson, who died at the scene, police said.
Officers returned fire, then, after a search of the area, entered the home early Wednesday and found Dunham dead on a balcony. It was unclear whether Dunham shot himself or was killed by police during the gunfire exchange.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Wednesday said the city was grieving.
“This is San Jose’s darkest day, “ he said in a statement. “Every officer leaving their home wearing a badge and uniform prepares for the worst, but leaves a spouse and family who prays for her or his safe return.