A rookie 22-year-old police officer who had just completed field training before Christmas was fatally shot while she responded to a car crash in downtown Davis, Calif., the city’s police chief said.
The suspected gunman was found dead inside a home about a block away from the shooting, police said in a statement at around 1:30 a.m. Friday, “with what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona was responding to a crash involving three vehicles at 5th and D streets around 6:45 p.m. Thursday when gunshots were fired and she was hit, Police Chief Darren Pytel told reporters at a televised news conference after midnight.
Corona was the only officer at the scene, less than a block from the city’s main fire station. She was rushed by firefighters to UC Davis Medical Center but “they weren’t able to save her,” Pytel said.
The search for the gunman was focused about a block away from the shooting, around 5th and E streets. The suspect was described as a man in his 20s with an average build, wearing a baseball cap, black jacket and black tactical boots, police said.
It was not immediately clear if the gunman had been involved in the crash or had walked up to the scene before shooting the officer, Pytel said.
“We’re just absolutely devastated,” Pytel said. The last time a police officer died in the line of duty in Davis, a city of 69,000 people a 5-mile drive west of Sacramento, was in 1959.
Pytel said Corona started her career in the police department as a part-time employee and volunteer. She was a hard worker, Pytel said, and was so enthusiastic about her job that when the department ran out of funding for her position, she came in anyway as a full-time volunteer until she went into the academy.
“Natalie was just full of life and full of energy and just an absolute pleasure to be around. … She just worked like you can’t believe,” Pytel said, with colleagues describing her as a daughter, a friend “and a sister we all wanted.”
Corona completed training at the academy in July. She completed the Davis Police Department’s six-month field-training program just before Christmas, and had been out on her own as an officer for just a couple of weeks.
The investigation of the shooting is being conducted by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Corona is survived by her parents.
The fatal shooting comes less than a month after another police officer died in the line of duty, about 90 miles south of Davis in the city of Newman, which is also in the Central Valley.
Cpl. Ronil Singh, 33, was shot after he pulled over a vehicle for a traffic stop, believing the driver to be drunk, police said. Authorities said they have filed a murder charge against Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, a Mexican national who is living in the country illegally, has known gang ties and has been arrested twice on suspicion of driving under the influence.