Flowers lined the entrance to Corpus Christi Catholic Church Thursday, where friends, family, law enforcement officers and members of the public gathered for the first of two memorial services to honor slain San Diego police Officer Jonathan De Guzman.
The church, which holds 1,200 people, was filled to capacity for the 90-minute service. De Guzman’s casket was carried into the church by pallbearers, one of whom was his 17-year-old son.
“This is an opportunity for us as a church to come together and to pray, to support the family, to be together with the widow of Officer De Guzman, but also to be able to come together as a community of faith to pray for peace and for those who have given their lives in service for their country and community,” Father Efrain Bautista said.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman recalled De Guzman’s career, telling those gathered about how she had called his family several years ago after the officer had been stabbed in a traffic stop.
Zimmerman then recounted how this time, it was so very different. She said that when she was driving to see De Guzman’s family, she so wished she could say those same words again.
The chief then stopped and wiped away a tear.
De Guzman, who had been on the force for 16 years, was gunned down Thursday night in a shooting that also wounded his partner, Officer Wade Irwin.
The officers, members of the department’s gang suppression unit, had stopped to talk to two pedestrians.
Irwin got out of the car, asked one of the men a question and was met with immediate gunfire, prosecutors said. A bullet hit him in the throat.
The shooter then walked to the open passenger-side door of the car and opened fire on De Guzman, hitting him several times.
De Guzman died at a hospital a short time later.
Irwin returned fire and struck the shooter, who ran away. He later was found unconscious in a ravine and arrested, according to prosecutors.
After the service, mourners showed their support for law enforcement.
One woman was seen hugging police officers outside the church. "You guys are so great,” she said.
A former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy stood across the street, holding a sign that said: “Police lives matter. Gangsters not so much.”
Fred Faul of Oceanside, 81, said he just wanted to show his support for the family. “So many officers have been killed. I’m sick of it,” he said. “Somebody has to stand and support the police.”
A second memorial service for De Guzman will planned for Friday morning at the Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon. Among those scheduled to attend is Gov. Jerry Brown.
De Guzman will be buried at Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita in a private ceremony.
Baker writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune
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