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Former San Diego Police officer Deputy Darnell Calhoun mourned

Darnell Calhoun was shot and killed while answering a domestic disturbance call in Lake Elsinore Friday. KPBS met Calhoun last year, as part of a story about officers like him transferring to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

We first met Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun last March at his new station in Lake Elsinore. It was a far cry from the 90-minute commute to San Diego, where he'd served two years as a police officer.

The story was about officers like Calhoun leaving San Diego and other big cities to work for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Calhoun was happy he could spend more time with his two little boys. We asked if more money would have made him stay in San Diego. He said, "Yes, money would have been great, but ... it would have been something really significant, because I really am valuing the fact that I’m home. I’m patrolling home, and I like being closer just to family and to home, my new colleagues are really great ... I miss some of the people I work with in San Diego, but I’m glad I’m here."

Photo of Deputy Darnell Calhoun (left) and Deputy Diana Mendoza (right) taken at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Lake Elsinore Station on March 10, 2022<br/><br/>
Photo of Deputy Darnell Calhoun (left) and Deputy Diana Mendoza (right) taken at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Lake Elsinore Station on March 10, 2022

Calhoun was shot Friday while answering a domestic violence call in Lake Elsinore. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco noted that Calhoun's entire shift from San Diego rushed up to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center after the shooting.

Among them was San Diego police officer Chad Crenshaw, who had been Calhoun's partner.

"I instantly liked him," Crenshaw told KPBS. "He was just happy, outgoing ... he would always have a smile on his face. He and I would always tell cheesy dad jokes to each other."

In this undated photo, Officers Chad Crenshaw and Darnell Calhoun share some BBQ and laughs during their time together at San Diego Police Department.
Officer Chad Crenshaw

Crenshaw said when Calhoun went to Riverside county, he was happy for him. "We kept in touch. He called me two days ago and made plans to get together soon," he recalled.

Crenshaw said his former partner was quick to act whenever he thought lives were at risk. He recounted this story from their time together: "A gentleman had a heart attack while picking up his daughter from high school. We raced over there and got there before medics did. And Darnell immediately jumped on and started CPR, and when the medics showed up they said if it wasn’t for Darnell‘s quick action doing chest compressions this guy wouldn’t have lived so Darnell … he’s a hero."


While putting this story together, we found a quote we didn’t use in last year’s story. In it, Calhoun shared why he wanted to become a police officer. "I really do enjoy  helping people and assisting people," he said. "I know that sounds super cliché, but that is my heart. I enjoy doing that, so I enjoy getting out and assisting people in different ways. I’d like to watch over those who can’t help themselves and protect them from people who — for lack of a better word —suck."

Darnell Calhoun is the second Riverside County deputy killed on duty in just over two weeks. He is survived by his two sons, and his wife, who is pregnant.

Darnell Calhoun and his family
Riverside County Sheriff's Association Help A Hero Campaign
Darnell Calhoun and his family

The Riverside County Sheriff's Association has set up a fund to help his family: Help a Hero Campaign.

Calhoun's family operates a BBQ restaurant in Murrieta. Over the weekend, flowers and other offerings piled up in front of the restaurant.

A vigil in his memory is being held at the Lake Elsinore sheriff's substation on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., with another vigil at Murrieta's Town Square Park Amphitheater on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.