East County News Service
Photo: San Diego Fire Department, via San Diego Police Department Twitter feed
August 6, 2016 (El Cajon – Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and thousands of San Diegans turned out Friday morning at Shadow Mountain Church in El Cajon to honor the memory of murdered San Diego Police Officer Jonathan DeGuzman.
Officer DeGuzman died in the line of duty, gunned down July 28 in an attack that also critically wounded his partner, Wade Irwin.
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman called Officer DeGuzman a “great man” who was liked by everybody on the force. “As he would approach you, he would flash his big smile, and positive energy was just all around him.” The Chief added that DeGuzman was an outstanding police officer because he “truly cared about everyone.”
The ceremony and a funeral procession from San Diego to El Cajon drew thousands of mourners including first responders from across the nation, many waving flags and offering somber salutes as the procession made its way along Interstate 8 toward the church.
Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement which reads in part, “Each day officers risk their lives to keep our communities safe and Officer De Guzman's brave service and sacrifice will not be forgotten. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Officer De Guzman's family and friends, members of the San Diego Police Department and all law enforcement mourning the loss of this dedicated public servant."
Retired San Diego Police Department Pastor Ben Harris, speaking at the memorial, said Officer DeGuzman “became a hero when he chose to live a life of safety and calmness and (when) he stepped forward into his place on the thin blue line, protecting the citizens of San Diego.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer praised DeGuzman as “the perfect officer…because he cared,”then added, “We must never stop caring. We’re going to keep strengthening the bonds between police officers and our communities. We’re going to keep forging pathways to opportunities so we can end the cycle of violence. And we’re never going to stop helping each other, because J.D. never stopped helping us.”
Among the most moving tributes came from DeGuzman’s teen son,Jonathan Jr.. “His death motivates me to achieve my dreams and create a positive impact toward the world,” he said.
A former convict, Michael Gomez,52,has been charged with the murder of Officer DeGuzman and attempted murder of Officer Irwin, as well as illegal possession of a weapon as a felon. He is accused of firing five rounds at point-blank range, killing DeGuzman in his patrol car.
Officer Irwin fired several rounds, injuring Gomez, who remains hospitalized. Gomez pled not guilty in an arraignment at UCSD Medical Center last week.
Donations to help the family of Officer DeGuzman can be made through the San Diego Police Officers Association at sdpoa.org/about-widows-orphans-fund/. SDPOA asks donors to list “Officer Jonathan DeGuzman” when donating online.
A separate fund has been established to help Officer Irwin and his family as he recovers from surgery for his injuries. You can donate at gofundme.com/irwinfamilyfund.