With his parents and extended law-enforcement family looking on,
Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka was remembered Friday as a
brave young man with a playful side who lived life to the fullest.
An estimated 3,500 people, including police officers from Santa
Barbara to San Diego, attended a memorial service for Pavelka at
Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Also on hand were state and local
officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, state Atty. Gen.
Bill Lockyer, Burbank Mayor Stacey Murphy and City Manager Mary
Schwarzenegger embraced Pavelka’s mother, Sue, and presented her
with a folded California flag. Burbank Police Chief Thomas Hoefel
presented a folded U.S. flag to Pavelka’s parents.
“I thought I had the greatest job in the world until last
Saturday, and then I lost a member of my family,” Hoefel told
mourners on a cold, overcast morning. “We were blessed to have Matt
join our family. We’ll tell you his death has had a tremendous effect
on the people in our organization, and it’s going to take us a while
to mend and heal.”
Pavelka, 26, was shot and killed Nov. 15 after coming to the aid
of fellow officer Gregory Campbell during a traffic stop in a Ramada
Inn parking lot on North San Fernando Boulevard. Campbell, who was
critically injured during the ensuing gun battle, is expected to
recover but was unable to attend the service and burial.
The man suspected of killing Pavelka, David A. Garcia, remained at
large Friday, a day after Burbank officials offered a $50,000 reward
for information leading to his capture and possible conviction.
Burbank Police Field Training Officer Edgar Penaranda
characterized Pavelka as a handsome, fun-loving guy who went by the
nickname “Carrot Top.”
“Matthew not only touched our family and our community, he touched
other agencies as well -- local, state and federal,” Penaranda said.
“This week in our station, I’ve seen so many different kinds of
badges, shields and stars.
“As I walk into the station, I notice one thing in common -- a
simple black band. We come from all over to mourn the loss of a young
brother, a rookie, son of a 30-year veteran. It makes no difference
where we’re from or how long we’ve been on.”
Burbank Police Lt. John Dilibert, who served as Pavelka’s mentor
during his first four months on the force, thanked Pavelka’s parents
for “sharing your son with our department and the citizens of
Pavelka’s girlfriend, Jessica DiCristina, broke down when she
walked to the podium.
“You were the love of my life, honey. Being apart from you is not
easy,” she said. “I am very proud of you because you are my hero.”
Pavelka, a rookie officer who served 10 months with the
department, was remembered with a rifle volley, a rendition of “Taps”
and a missing-man formation performed by four police helicopters
overhead. A Burbank Police dispatcher announced Pavelka’s End of
Watch: Nov. 15, 2003.