Slain Riverside County deputy described as well-liked family man expecting 3rd child

KABC logo
Sunday, January 15, 2023
Slain Riverside County deputy described as well-liked family man
EMBED <>More Videos

Riverside County Deputy Darnell Calhoun, who was fatally shot in Lake Elsinore, was a 30-year-old married father of two children, with a third on the way.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- The community is expressing grief and offering tributes to Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun, slain in the line of duty in Lake Elsinore on Friday.

We're learning more about the deputy as plans are made to honor his legacy.

The 30-year-old was married with two sons - and a third child on the way. He has been described as well-liked and friendly by all who met and worked with him.

Calhoun started his law enforcement career with the San Diego police department, working there for about two years become coming to Riverside County in February 2022. He was assigned to the Lake Elsinore station.

"He was the most cheerful, the most positive, the most good, wholesome man you could imagine," Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said.

Calhoun's family owned a barbecue restaurant in Murrieta and the deputy was known to occasionally work there.

Community members have been leaving tributes at the restaurant, which was closed Saturday, as well as at the Lake Elsinore station and at the site of the deadly gunfight.

Murrieta residents said their Riverside County city is home to many law-enforcement officers and they are a tight-knit community.

"So many of them are able to live in the community in which they work and they raise their families," said Kassen Klein, a customer of the restaurant who was stopping by to leave a tribute. "Which is why our community feels so close and so touched and are grieving with the family."

Lake Elsinore resident Linda Davis recalled meeting Calhoun and being touched by what a nice man he was.

"He was heartwarming when I met him," said Davis.

KPBS, the public broadcaster in San Diego, recently did a profile featuring Calhoun which can be seen here.

Calhoun was killed Friday in an encounter with a domestic violence suspect in the unincorporated community of Lakeland Village, which borders the city of Lake Elsinore.

Calhoun was first on scene and the exact details of the confrontation remain under investigation. Neighbors say they saw the deputy try to take cover near a house on the corner, but the suspect jumped into his truck and chased him, shooting him several times.

Another deputy arrived to the scene a short time later and found Calhoun on the ground. That second deputy engaged in a gunfight with the suspect and shot him, leaving him in critical condition.

"I was in my room and it sounded like nonstop gunfire for at least a a minute," said one young girl who lives in the neighborhood. "It was like 10 shots, 10 shots, 10 shots. It was pretty scary. At first I didn't know what it was. I figured it out with the ambulance sirens."

The suspect has been identified as 42-year-old Lake Elsinore resident Jesse Navarro.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a statement describing Calhoun as a hero.

"Jennifer and I are heartbroken by the loss of Deputy Calhoun, a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," Newsom said.

"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all those he served with at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, who are mourning the painful loss of another deputy weeks ago. Deputy Calhoun died a hero and his bravery and selfless service will always be remembered."