A 34-year-old California Highway Patrol officer gunned down by a convicted felon during a traffic stop was remembered Tuesday as a fun-loving, high-spirited lawman who was committed to public service and made a positive impact on many lives.
CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said Officer Andre Maurice Moye Jr. was “taken from us in a tragic and inexcusable attack” that has left the agency reeling.
“Andre came into work every day with a smile,” Stanley said. “When he walked into the office, he made everybody feel better. He loved being a CHP officer. It was his dream job. He had a strong work ethic and a passion for public service. He was an outstanding man.”
Stanley was among a dozen speakers who paid homage to Moye during a nearly two-hour public memorial service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers from throughout the region and state, as well as several neighboring states.
“Andre had a servant’s heart,” said CHP Inland Division Chief Bill Dance, who praised Moye for his “exemplary” skills as a motorcycle officer, having made it through the agency’s grueling motor training program on the first go.
“Andre always had a positive attitude. He never complained, and he never hesitated to help. They say a life that touches others goes on forever. Andre certainly touched a lot of lives.”
Moye’s family recalled that he worked as an electrical engineer for years before deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement, specifically the CHP, and after acceptance, he attended the seven-month academy in Sacramento, graduating in March 2017, He was assigned to the Riverside Area Office soon after.
“He handed out so many speeding tickets that he worried about eating in restaurants,” Moye’s cousin, Melissa Lopez, said amid laughs. “He did not want the `special sauce.”‘
His stepfather, Richard Solario, remembered Moye as a “hard-working, caring person” who hired the elder man as an installer on contracts laying cables after an unexpected job loss.
“I became his worst employee,” Solario recalled, chuckling. “After he got into the CHP academy, it was probably the best thing for both of us.”
One of Moye’s five siblings, Michael Solario, addressed the mourners. The young man, who is pursuing a law enforcement career himself, lauded his older brother as a mentor who “took pride in what he did, on and off the job.” He said the slain lawman was a constant presence in his family’s lives, often going to his mother’s Moreno Valley home to complete police reports.
“Andre is in a much better place now. Our father in heaven is taking care of him,” Solario said.
A family friend read a statement from Moye’s wife, Sara, who wrote that he had given her “the best years of my life” and was “truly the love of my life.”
Harvest Pastor Greg Laurie expressed that, just as he searched for answers when his son, Christopher, died in a crash on the Riverside (91) Freeway 11 years ago, he could only search for an understanding as to why Moye was killed.
“No one can take the pain away,” Laurie said. “Inexplicable tragedies make no sense to us. We don’t decide the date of our birth or the date of our death. But we have everything to say about that dash in the middle. Andre lived that dash well.”
Moye was laid to rest in a private funeral service.
Harvest was the same location in April where final respects were paid to CHP Sgt. Steve Licon, who was Moye’s colleague, and like Moye, was a motor officer. Licon was struck by a suspected drunken driver while working extra duty in Lake Elsinore. Stanley noted that Moye happened to be the officer who arrested that suspect, Michael Callahan.
Aaron Luther, 49, of Beaumont, fatally shot Moye shortly after the patrolman and a backup officer in another unit stopped the ex-con for an unspecified violation in the area of Box Springs Boulevard and Eastridge Avenue, just west of Interstate 215, about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, according to the Riverside Police Department, which released findings of its preliminary investigation on Friday.
“During that stop, the lone suspect produced a weapon and fired at Officer Moye, severely injuring him,” said Officer Ryan Railsback. “The backup CHP officer … immediately took gunfire from the suspect and returned fire. He called for assistance during the gunfight and was also struck, which caused a critical injury to one of his legs.”
Multiple CHP officers and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies converged on the scene after the distress call went out, engaging Luther, who was armed with a semiautomatic rifle, possibly assembled from a kit. The weapon had been stashed somewhere in the shooter’s GMC pickup.
“The exchange of gunfire between the suspect and law enforcement continued for several minutes, resulting in a third CHP officer being struck,” Railsback said. “An RPD officer arrived to the west of the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him. The suspect was severely injured, causing him to stop his attack.”
Moye was retrieved by an RPD helicopter crew, who flew him to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he was pronounced dead minutes later.
The leg-shot CHP officer and the third officer, who suffered superficial wounds, were also taken to the county hospital. The latter was treated and released that night. The officer with the critical wound remains hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the CHP.
Luther, who had prior convictions for attempted murder and assault, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
A motive for the attack remains unclear, but Dennis Luther told reporters that he believed his son, contending with a troubled marriage and suffering knee ailments that were preventing him from working construction jobs, may have been bent on committing suicide by cop.