Community rallying support to honor slain Riverside County Deputy Darnell Calhoun

Deputy Darnell Calhoun was just 30 years old, a married father of two with a third child on the way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Vigils honor slain Riverside County sheriff's deputy
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Friends and community members are honoring slain Riverside County Deputy Darnell Calhoun and showing support to his family.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- Vigils will be held this week in memory of Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun, killed Friday in the line of duty.

He was just 30 years old, a married father of two with a third child on the way.

Friends and community members are now left in mourning and doing what they can to support the deputy's family.

"Officer Calhoun put his boots on in the morning expecting to go home at night and all of a sudden he's not there," said Mike Birch, a Lake Elsinore community member.

Calhoun was shot and killed Friday afternoon while responding to a domestic violence call.

Investigators say 42-year-old Jesse Navarro is the gunman in this case. He was shot by another deputy and is recovering at a local hospital.

Calhoun's family released a statement Monday through the Sheriff's Office:

"Since the tragic loss of Darnell, our family has received an outpouring of love and support from our community for which we are immensely grateful. 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. His life, his commitment and dedication to his family and his community will remain an inspiration. 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. While we respect and are thankful and grateful for the community, we ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Thank you for your continued love and prayers."

The Riverside Sheriff's Association has establishing a fundraising campaign to help Calhoun's family.

Calhoun's death comes just two weeks after another Riverside County Sheriff's deputy, Isaiah Cordero, was killed on-duty.

"Our law enforcement officers are here to protect the community and right now it's becoming very dangerous for them," said Craig Simmons of Lake Elsinore.

Calhoun grew up in Murrieta. His parents own a popular restaurant, Calhoun Family Texas Barbeque. The front of the business is now filled with tributes, flowers and messages of condolence.

"He was raised here, so everybody knows him," said Shawn Sorensen, a friend and former employer of Calhoun.

Sorensen hired Calhoun as a real estate agent more than five years ago. At the time, he was also working during the day at the restaurant and at night at Oak Grove Center, a Murrieta nonprofit that counsels at-risk children.

He left three years ago to become a San Diego police officer and then joined the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in February 2022.

"I never felt great about it," Sorensen said. "I love our police officers and sheriffs, but it just didn't sit well with me. To me, he was just too sweet."

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

Calhoun's wife Vanessa is now left alone to raise the couple's two young sons, with another boy due in April.

"We're all so hurt and shocked and just trying to figure out how can we rally around this family and support mom and dad and of course support Vanessa and those two boys and soon-to-be three children," Sorensen said.

Two candlelight vigils are planned to honor Deputy Calhoun. The first was held Tuesday outside the Lake Elsinore Sheriff Station. Another is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Murrietta Town Square Park Amphitheater.

Bishop R.A. McKinley of Canyon Lake attended Tuesday's event said he knew the Calhoun family.

"The support he is getting now just shows you the type of person he was," he said.