Suspect ID'd in fatal shooting of Riverside County sheriff's deputy near Lake Elsinore

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Sunday, January 15, 2023
Riverside County sheriff's deputy fatally shot in Lake Elsinore
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A Riverside County sheriff's deputy died after being shot in Lake Elsinore Friday afternoon.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- The suspect in the fatal shooting of a Riverside County sheriff's deputy near Lake Elsinore was identified Saturday as mournful tributes continued to pour in for the slain law enforcement officer.

Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, who had joined the department less than a year ago, was shot Friday while responding to a domestic violence and child custody call in Lakeland Village and later died at a hospital.

The suspect, 42-year-old Lake Elsinore resident Jesse Navarro, was shot by another responding deputy and hospitalized in critical condition, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Chad Bianco announced Calhoun's death Friday evening during a news conference outside Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.

"I shouldn't be here tonight having to do this again," Bianco said. "I'm devastated to tell of the loss of another of our deputy sheriffs who was killed in the line of duty today."

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the following statement Saturday morning:

"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. 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."

The incident began shortly before 4:30 p.m. Friday, when a dispatcher took a call and "in the background she heard voices and it sounded like a confrontation was occurring," Bianco said.

Deputies were dispatched to the 18500 block of Hilldale Lane, in the unincorporated community of Lakeland Village, which borders the city of Lake Elsinore. Calhoun was the first deputy at the scene, but "we're not sure about the initial contact," the sheriff said.

The second deputy to arrive at the scene found Calhoun wounded in the street, according to Bianco. "A gunfight ensued with the suspect, who was shot. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital."

"He's a husband, a son," Bianco said of Calhoun, adding that the slain deputy's widow is pregnant.

Friends say the couple had two sons and were expecting a third child.

He said no one ever had a negative thing to say about Calhoun, who joined the Sheriff's Department in February 2022 after spending two years with the San Diego Police Department.

"He was always so positive," Bianco said, adding that Calhoun has a "fantastic family."

"I remember when he was sworn in," Bianco said, briefly overcome with emotion. "I hugged his mother and told her I would take care of him."

Late Friday, a procession of law enforcement officers escorted Calhoun's body from Inland Valley Medical Center to the coroner's office in Perris.

On Saturday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta also offered his condolences.

"Deputy Darnell Calhoun represented the best of the California spirit -- protecting and serving the public with valor," Bonta said Saturday. "On behalf of the nearly 6,000 men and women of the California Department of Justice, I extend our deepest condolences to Deputy Calhoun*s family, colleagues, and the entire Riverside community. His service and sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Funeral services are pending.

In late December, another Riverside County deputy, Isaiah Cordero, was shot and killed in an encounter with a felon who had an extensive criminal record. The gunman in that incident was shot and killed by deputies after a chase.