When Burbank Police Chief Thomas Hoefel visited the National Law
Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., a few years ago,
he never imagined his department would add another name to it.
But the unimaginable happened with the loss of Burbank Police
Officer Matthew Pavelka.
“His death has had an enormous effect on the city and the police
family,” he said Tuesday night at a vigil in front of Burbank Police
and Fire headquarters. “But it has also brought us together.”
More than 2,000 residents and city employees, including members of
the police and fire departments, gathered Tuesday evening for the
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 was
critically injured during a gunfight between the two officers and two
suspects, but is expected to recover. One of the gunmen was shot and
killed; his alleged accomplice remains at large.
The vigil, organized by the city, included heartfelt speeches by
Mayor Stacey Murphy, City Manager Mary Alvord, Los Angeles County
Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and Pavelka’s father, Michael, who is a Los
Angeles Police detective.
“We know he was a spirited, fun-loving young man who lived life to
the fullest,” Murphy said. “We know that he was doing exactly what he
aspired to do up to his death.”
“When evil attacks our brave policemen, it attacks all the
community members of Burbank,” she added.
Alvord’s address to the crowd was also emotionally charged.
“Matthew didn’t die in vain,” she said in a quivering voice. “His
death made the city stronger and more resolute to keep this city safe
The hourlong vigil concluded with a performance of Eric Clapton’s
“Tears in Heaven,” performed by a band that included Burbank Police
Pavelka, a rookie with 10 months on the job, was buried Friday
following a memorial service that drew more than 3,000 people,
including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and law-enforcement officers
from across the state. He was eulogized as an officer who paid the
Tears flowed as the crowd took a few minutes after the vigil to
embrace one another and pay their tributes to police officers.
“This is a very small community in the middle of a great big city,
and we have strong feelings for our police and fire departments,”
said Barbara Pulchinski, a 43-year resident of Burbank. “Coming out
to the vigil is the least I could do to show my respect.”