Friday, August 12, 2011
Hundreds of people from law enforcement and other walks of life converged on Liberty Station today to honor the second San Diego police officer killed in the line of duty in less than a year.
Officer Jeremy Henwood, a decorated ex-Marine who joined the police department four years ago, was gunned down last weekend in City Heights. The memorial service for the 36-year-old was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at The Rock Church in Liberty Station.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and California Gov. Jerry Brown were among those joining hundreds of officers, military staff, friends and family to pay respects to Henwood.
A motorcade including hundreds of law enforcement vehicles from throughout the state set off around 8:30 a.m. from Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley and ended at the Rosecrans Street church. It took about a half-hour for the lead vehicles to reach the church. Those vehicles included a hearse carrying Henwood's body and a black limousine with his family inside.
Vehicles in the motorcade were driven with red and blue lights flashing, and fire vehicles parked along the motorcade route were flanked by firefighters and paramedics who stood at attention and saluted as the motorcade passed by.
Henwood, who served repeat deployments to combat zones, lost his life to a street shooting carried out by a suicidal, shotgun-wielding petty criminal who ambushed his patrol car in City Heights early Saturday evening.
The gunman, 23-year-old Dejon Marquee White of San Diego, had shot another man a short time earlier outside an El Cajon fast-food restaurant, according to police. The initial victim survived despite critical head and face injuries.
About 10 minutes later, White flashed his headlights while approaching Henwood's eastbound cruiser from behind on University Avenue, near 45th Street.
The assailant then pulled up alongside the officer, fired the gun into his driver's side window and sped off.
A woman who witnessed the shooting used Henwood's police radio to report what had happened. Medics took the mortally wounded officer to Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he succumbed to head wounds early Sunday morning.
About a half-hour after the attack, police found White's black Audi a few blocks away, near the suspect's apartment in the 4000 block of 48th Street.
When confronted by officers, White allegedly grabbed his shotgun, prompting them to open fire. He died at the scene.
White, who had a prior history of theft, reckless driving, resisting arrest and other minor crimes, had left behind a suicide note in his residence, but it made no mention of homicidal intentions and revealed no possible motive for the rampage, police said.
The slain officer, a Texas native, was a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve and had served three tours of duty in the past eight years -- twice in Iraq and, most recently, in Afghanistan. He earned numerous awards and decorations during his 15 years of military service.
The United States Honor Flag was flown to San Diego to be displayed beside Henwood throughout the memorial service. The significance of the flag is that it began with the Sept. 11 attacks and has traveled around the country to pay tribute to fallen heroes.
Henwood is survived by his parents, Beverly and Robbie, brother, Robbie Jr., and sister, Emily, all of San Antonio, Texas. His body was expected to be returned to Texas for burial following today's memorial service.
Henwood was the second San Diego police officer killed on the job within 10 months. In late October, Officer Chris Wilson, 50, was shot to death during a probation raid at a Skyline-area apartment complex.
Henwood's killing also closely followed the violent off-duty deaths of two other SDPD personnel. Veteran child-abuse Detective Donna Williams, 52, was stabbed to death at her home last month along with her teenage daughter, allegedly by the policewoman's mentally ill 24-year-old son. He faces two counts of murder in the case.
On Aug. 1, SDPD motorcycle Officer David Hall, a 14-year department veteran, shot himself to death in his backyard. Hall was awaiting trial on drunken driving and hit-and-run charges he was facing in connection with an off-duty collision in Serra Mesa.
The San Diego Police Officers Association has created a trust fund for the Henwood family. Contributions can be mailed to: Officer Jeremy Henwood Family Trust, c/o San Diego Police Officers Association, 8388 Vickers St, San Diego, CA 92111. Donors are asked to write "Officer Jeremy Henwood'' in the memo line of their checks.