Memorial marks anniversary of deputy's slaying while responding to domestic call in Lake Elsinore

City News Service
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Memorial marks anniversary of slaying of deputy in Lake Elsinore
A memorial service was held to mark the anniversary of the slaying of a Riverside County sheriff's deputy who was ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (CNS) -- A memorial service was held Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of the slaying of a 30-year-old Riverside County sheriff's deputy who was ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call.

The sheriff's Lake Elsinore station organized the morning ceremony for Deputy Darnell Calhoun outside the station, 333 Limited St.

Station commander sheriff's Capt. James Rayls and Supervisor Karen Spiegel were among the speakers, along with other officials.

In a statement, Spiegel said Calhoun's "ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty is a poignant reminder of the bravery of our law enforcement officers."

Calhoun, who is survived by his widow, Vanessa, and young sons Russell, Troy and Malcolm, was fatally shot on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, allegedly by 43-year-old Jesse Ceazar Navarro of Lake Elsinore.

The District Attorney's Office announced in July that prosecutors will pursue a death sentence if Navarro is convicted.

According to a sheriff's arrest warrant affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Calhoun went to a residence in the 18500 block of Hilldale Lane, near Grand Avenue, about 4:30 p.m. after 911 dispatchers received a call indicating a domestic altercation at the location, without certainty, because the caller abruptly hung up.

Calhoun arrived alone in his patrol vehicle and "contacted several individuals in the driveway of the residence," according to the affidavit.

"Navarro partially concealed himself behind an open door of his (pickup) truck, holding a handgun out of sight of Deputy Calhoun," the document said. "Within 17 seconds of Deputy Calhoun arriving on scene, Navarro began shooting at him. Navarro fired multiple rounds at Deputy Calhoun, (who) fled on foot. Navarro then entered his truck, drove in the direction that Calhoun had fled and continued to fire at him from the truck."

The affidavit revealed Calhoun fired back at the defendant, but "none of the rounds appeared to injure him."

The lawman was hit several times and collapsed in the street. He was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A public memorial service is scheduled in Rancho Cucamonga for Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun, who was gunned down while responding to a domestic disturbance call.

A backup deputy engaged Navarro in a gunfight within a couple minutes of the "deputy under fire" call, wounding the defendant. The responding deputy wasn't injured.

Navarro has since recovered and is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside. He has a mental competency hearing set for Jan. 19 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

In September, by unanimous consent of the state Senate, a segment of Interstate 15 between Central Avenue and North Main Street in Lake Elsinore was renamed the "Deputy Darnell Andrew Calhoun Memorial Highway."

In December, the sheriff's department marked the one-year anniversary of another patrol deputy killed in the line of duty, less than three weeks prior to Calhoun's loss.

Deputy Isaiah Albert Cordero, 32, of Jurupa Valley was shot to death on the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2022, 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 I-15 in Norco.

Cordero's had been the first deputy line-of-duty death in Riverside County in 15 years.

Another deputy, 27-year-old Brett Michael Harris, died while responding to a call early on the morning of May 12, 2023. He was going through a San Jacinto intersection when he was involved in a collision, suffering catastrophic injuries.

The other driver, who suffered moderate injuries, was not charged in connection with the fatality.