Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

A thin, sad blue line

Tim Willert

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.