(CNS) – The family of a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy gunned down while responding to a domestic disturbance says that the community’s condolences and expressions of support in the wake of the tragedy “have uplifted us.”
“Our family has received an outpouring of love and support from our community for which we are immensely grateful,” according to a statement released Monday night by Deputy Darnell Calhoun’s loved ones. “While we are heartbroken, we also celebrate the gift of Darnell — the husband, father, son, brother and deputy. His life, though cut short, is a blessing. Our faith in Jesus will carry us through this, and we know we will be reunited with Darnell once again.”
Calhoun, 30, was allegedly gunned down Friday by 42-year-old Jesse Navarro of Lake Elsinore.
The deputy, who left behind a pregnant wife and two young sons, died after he was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where the suspect was also taken and remains in critical condition after he was shot by a deputy backing up Calhoun.
“His life, his commitment and dedication to his family and his community will remain an inspiration,” according to the family statement. “He was genuine, kind, loyal and had the heart of a servant. We take great comfort in knowing that Darnell led a life well-lived. We are grateful to our community, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, and law enforcement agencies around the country that have uplifted us.”
A “Help A Hero” fundraiser was immediately established for the slain lawman. As of Tuesday morning, $188,173 in donations had been made on behalf of Calhoun’s family. The fundraiser link is at https://helpahero.com/campaign/deputy-darnell-calhoun.
Sheriff’s administrators in Riverside have yet to announce when funeral services will go forward.
Sheriff Chad Bianco said Calhoun was fatally shot about 4:20 p.m. Friday in the 18000 block of Hilldale Lane, near Grand Avenue, when he approached a residence from which a 911 call had been placed indicating there was a domestic disturbance.
Bianco said Calhoun was hit when Navarro allegedly opened fire from the residence.
“The second deputy on the scene found Deputy Calhoun wounded in the street,” Bianco said Friday. “A gunfight ensued with the suspect, who was shot. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital.”
Background information on Navarro was unavailable.
A candlelight vigil for the fallen lawman — the second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy killed in a confrontation in less than three weeks — is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the sheriff’s Lake Elsinore station, 333 W. Limited Ave.
Calhoun was assigned there after he laterally transferred from the San Diego Police Department nearly one year ago.
“He was a husband, a father of two young boys — ages 2 and 4 — and a third baby boy on the way,” according to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation, which initiated the online fundraiser. “He will be remembered as a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a son-in-law, a brother-in-law and a loyal friend.”
Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson praised Calhoun for making “the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting our community.”
The Riverside Sheriffs’ Association described Calhoun’s death as the loss of “another hero way too early in life.”
“Our heart aches for the family, friends and fellow deputies of Darnell Calhoun, and we ask everyone to take a moment to remember his selfless service,” said the RSA, which represents the nearly 4,000 line deputies countywide.
The San Diego Police Department posted a message Friday night saying personnel were “devastated to learn of the passing of Deputy Darnell Calhoun, an SDPD officer until 2022.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues in SDPD and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.”
Bianco recalled Friday the occasion in February 2022 when Calhoun was sworn in.
“I hugged his mother and told her I would take care of him,” the sheriff said. “We are sadly in a time when some people have no respect for other people and no respect for law enforcement. Those people are willing to engage in gunfights with law enforcement over minor things.”
Exactly one week prior to Calhoun’s slaying, Deputy Isaiah Albert Cordero was laid to rest.
The 32-year-old motorcycle deputy was shot to death on the afternoon of Dec. 29 by a convicted felon during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley. The man was killed two hours later during a gun battle with deputies attempting to arrest him after a lengthy pursuit that ended on southbound Interstate 15 in Norco.
Cordero’s had been the first deputy line-of-duty death in Riverside County in 15 years.
The backup deputy who shot Navarro was not identified and has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the sheriff’s Force Investigations Detail.
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