A 22-year-old Davis police officer, on the beat for just a few weeks and considered a rising star in her department, was shot and killed Thursday evening while responding to a traffic accident in the Northern California college town.
Officer Natalie Corona’s suspected killer was found dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a house in the area, according to the Davis Police Department.
The shooting occurred about 6:45 p.m. in the area of Fifth and C streets near downtown, police said. Corona was responding alone to a three-car crash in that area when she was shot.
Corona was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where she later died, police said. Police have not determined what prompted the attack.
Corona first joined the Davis Police Department in 2016 as a part-time community service officer, graduated from the Sacramento Police Department Academy over the summer then completed a six-month field training just before Christmas, The Davis Enterprise reported.
“She was a rising star in the department and I’ve known her for a couple years,” Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said in a late-night news conference. “She started as a part-time employee, volunteer. I can tell you that I’ve never seen anybody work harder in a part-time capacity and be more motivated to be a police officer than Natalie. She’s just absolutely a star in the department and somebody that pretty much every department looked to as a close friend, a sister.”
Pytel added she had “been out on her own for just a couple of weeks.”
Corona’s father Merced Corona has worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Colusa County for 26 years and a local newspaper there had written a story about him pinning his daughter’s badge as she was sworn in as an officer, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Police had issued a shelter in place across Davis as officers searched for the suspect and the UC campus was placed on lockdown. Later Thursday night, police were focused on a house in the same general area of the shooting where they found the suspect dead. Police haven’t provided details about the suspect.
As news spread of Corona’s death, police departments and others began to pay tribute to her across social media. Some of the posts featured a photo that Corona had shared on her Facebook page that showed her holding a “thin blue line” American flag. The flag honors sacrifices made by those in law enforcement.
Chief Pytel said the investigation would be led by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Davis is located about 20 miles west of Sacramento, California. This was the first fatal shooting of an on-duty officer in the city since 1959, according to the Enterprise.