Funeral honors slain Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun

Sunday, January 22, 2023
Funeral honors slain Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun
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A public memorial service was held for a Riverside County sheriff's deputy who was gunned down last week while responding to a domestic disturbance.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (KABC) -- A public memorial service was held Saturday morning in Rancho Cucamonga for Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun, who was gunned down last week while responding to a domestic disturbance call.

The service began shortly after 10 a.m. was followed by private internment services.

Before the funeral, the public was invited to show support ahead of the memorial by lining the route of the procession -- from Murrieta Valley Funeral Home to the Rancho Cucamonga church.

"After last Friday I will always have the pain and the sorrow of the Calhoun family edged into my heart," Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said at the public memorial at Abundant Living Family Church.

"I will forever pray that I never have to hold another deputy's wife as she cries out in disbelief or hear the pain of a grieving mother," Bianco said. "When a deputy or a police officer leaves for work the last thing a family ever considers is that their hero will not be returning home. Vanessa, while you and the boys have lost Darnell, you have 4,000 aunts and uncles at your beck and call. You will always be a part of us, you'll be our family and we will always be there for you."

A slideshow was displayed that included dozens of photos of Calhoun with family members and fellow law enforcement officers. During montage, Lakers legend Shaquille O'Neal, himself a reserve law enforcement officer, offered his condolences in a video.

"You know, I did not know your husband, Deputy Calhoun, but any man that works as law enforcement, you could tell they love the community," O'Neal said. "I know he loves you and I know he loves both of those beautiful babies. And, again, my heart is so heavy."

A viewing of the fallen lawman's casket was held at the funeral home Friday night, and a candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night outside the sheriff's Lake Elsinore station, where nearly 150 people gathered to remember the 30-year-old deputy, including Bianco.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson said Calhoun's "sacrifice reminds us of the ultimate price our law enforcement officers are willing to pay to keep our families and our communities safe."

Earlier this week, the slain deputy's family released a statement thanking residents and others for their "outpouring of love and support."

"While we are heartbroken, we also celebrate the gift of Darnell -- the husband, father, son, brother and deputy," according to the family statement. "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 was gunned down Friday, allegedly by 42-year-old Jesse Navarro of Lake Elsinore.

The deputy, who is survived by a pregnant widow and two young sons, died after he was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where the suspect was also taken and remained in critical condition after he was shot by a deputy backing up Calhoun.

A "Help A Hero" fundraiser was established in honor of Calhoun. As of Friday, $236,665 in donations had been made on behalf of his family.

"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 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."

Bianco said Calhoun was fatally shot about 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 13, in the 18000 block of Hilldale Lane, when he approached a residence from which a 911 call had been placed indicating there was a domestic disturbance.

Calhoun was hit when Navarro opened fire, Bianco said.

"The second deputy on the scene found Deputy Calhoun wounded in the street," Bianco said last week. "A gunfight ensued with the suspect, who was shot."

Calhoun was assigned to the Lake Elsinore station after he laterally transferred from the San Diego Police Department just under one year ago.

That agency posted a message last week 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."

A 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 15 Freeway in Norco.

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

City News Service contributed to this report.