MURRIETA, Calif. (KABC) -- The small restaurant run by the family of a Riverside County sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty reopened Wednesday morning to hundreds of supporters from around the community.
The line for lunch at the Calhoun Family Texas BBQ restaurant in Murrieta stretched all the way around the building.
While the aromas from the meat on the smoker alongside the restaurant did plenty to attract crowds, the real reason many of the patrons showed up was to show support for the owners still grieving the loss of their son.
"He was the best son you could imagine," said Darnell Calhoun Sr. "I loved him so dearly."
Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, was shot on Jan. 13 while responding to a domestic violence incident in Lakeland Village near Lake Elsinore. He was rushed to the hospital but passed away later that evening.
In the days following his death, people from across the area showed up at the restaurant to leave flowers, balloons and words of support.
With the reopening of the restaurant, the memorial is now gone. In its place, dozens and dozens of supporters lined up to buy lunch and show their support.
"I mean the phone has been ringing off the hook for the past week and a half," said Calhoun Sr. "We just have to move forward with our lives, because that's what our son would have wanted."
"It just has really blessed us to feel loved and supported by so many people," said Renee Calhoun, the fallen deputy's mother. "I feel like we're part of the Inland Empire; not just Murrieta. Because they've come from all over."
Friends set up tables and chairs in the parking lot to handle the extra crowds. Off-duty and retired police officers showed up as well.
"We're thankful that our son knew Christ," said Calhoun Sr. "And the community has shown an outpouring of love for us and our family. We've been here for 30 years in Murrieta, and we feel we belong here."