Hundreds watch funeral procession for slain Deputy Darnell Calhoun – San Bernardino Sun


Hundreds turned out on a chilly Saturday morning to view a 50-mile funeral procession carrying the casket of slain Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun.

Escorted by law officers on motorcycles, a black hearse left a Murrieta funeral home about 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, for a trek north on the 15 Freeway to a Rancho Cucamonga church.

Bundled-up spectators, some with American flags, watched the scene at Murrieta Valley Funeral Home on Washington Avenue as the casket was loaded into the hearse. Sheriff Chad Bianco was among those saluting the fallen deputy.

But the crowd had gathered well before that solemn moment.

Sonia Zuber, 53, was in place by 7:30 a.m., awaiting the procession.

“We feel for the family and all the deputies,” said Zuber, who has eaten at the Calhoun family’s Murrieta restaurant and said they are good people.

Zuber said it was horrible that the 30-year-old deputy was “leaving behind a pregnant wife,” but said the public’s support since the tragedy has been tremendous.

“It’s nice to see how the community comes together,” Zuber said.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Calhoun answered a late-afternoon call about possible domestic violence at a home in Lakeland Village near Lake Elsinore. He was shot and taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died.

Calhoun was the second Riverside County deputy to die in the line of duty in the past 16 days. Authorities said that Jesse Navarro, 42, shot Calhoun and engaged in a gunfight with the second deputy to arrive. He remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Calhoun was assigned to the San Diego Police Department in 2019 before transferring to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 2022.

As the time for Saturday’s procession drew nearer, more people began to gather.

Karen Picone, a 46-year-old Temecula resident, walked up with a hot coffee and her two young children, 8 and 12. Both girls held small American flags and wore red coats.

Bringing her daughters was a way to show them that officers “do it for the love of community and the love of the country,” said Picone, whose husband is in law enforcement.

Calhoun’s 10 a.m. funeral at Abundant Living Family Church will be livestreamed on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

People lined freeway overpasses to watch the procession.

In Norco, on the Hamner Avenue and Fifth Street overpass above the 15 Freeway were a handful of people. Two men carried American flags — one red, white and blue, the other blue, black and white.

Among those waiting was Greg Stevens, 65, a retired Riverside County firefighter.

“When there’s a loss, I feel it internally,” Stevens said. “As family, the very last thing I can do is show my support.”

“Sometimes there are no words” he said. “It’s an unnecessary sacrifice.”

Passing cars and trucks honked their horn in support of those gathered.

After Calhoun’s killing, the public outpouring of support was immediate.

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the day after the shooting, mourners left flowers, hand-written messages and candles outside Calhoun’s Family Texas Barbeque, which is run by the deputy’s parents.

Support for the family didn’t stop there.

A Go Fund Me page was created for the restaurant. In five days, it surpassed its goal of $10,000. A second fundraiser, organized by the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff’s Relief Foundation, was established for the Calhoun family. And, on Friday, Jan. 20, some McDonald’s franchises in southwest Riverside County donated 25% of their sales to the family.

Also, Calhoun’s widow, Vanessa, accepted a mortgage-free home from the nonprofit Tunnel to Tower Foundation, a news release states.

The killing, which so closely followed another deputy’s shooting, rocked the sheriff’s department and the community.

Isaiah Cordero, a sheriff’s deputy was killed during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley on Dec. 29.

The gunman, William Shae McKay, led law enforcement vehicles on a pursuit south on the 15 Freeway, crashing in Norco and then exchanging gunfire with officers. McKay was killed.



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