Archive for March 28th, 2009

Police On Desperate Search For Missing 8-Year-Old Girl

Repost from:

www.KTVU.comOriginal Story Link

Posted: 4:42 pm PDT March 28, 2009Updated: 6:36 pm PDT March 28, 2009

TRACY, Calif. — Police are looking for a missing 8-year-old girl in the largest missing person search Tracy has seen in at least a decade.

The FBI has also been involved in the search which started at 8:15 p.m. Friday night, four hours after the little girl was last seen in the mobile home park where she lives.

Sandra Cantu, a second grader from Jacobsen Elementary, was last seen around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon after leaving her neighbor’s house in the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park.

“We saw her yesterday at our house,” said neighbor Nahum Diaz. “She was playing with my 5-year-old sister. Then she left, she told her she had to go do her homework, and I didn’t see her anymore.”

Saturday, family and more than 50 volunteers walked door to door handing out fliers with the girl’s picture while police searched nearby schools and parks. FBI agents also began stopping every car entering or leaving the complex and searching trunks. Police are concerned about the neighborhood’s proximity to Interstate 580. It’s less than half a mile from the freeway entrance.

“It’s just a long time for an 8-year-old to be gone,” said Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman. “We’re very concerned about that.

Sandra’s cousin says the little girl lived with her mother and grandparents and that the father has never been in the child’s life and may be living in Mexico.

Emotional Tributes Honor Fallen Oakland Officers

 

Posted: 4:55 pm PDT March 26, 2009Updated: 8:50 pm PDT March 27, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif. — The city virtually halted Friday for the funeral of four slain police officers, with a populace still in shock jamming a large sports arena, spilling into an overflow stadium and filling the streets to pay their last respects.

The funerals for Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai, who authorities say were gunned down March 21 by a parolee during a traffic stop and a later shootout, shut down major freeways into and out of Oakland for much of the day as their long processions made their way to and from the Oracle Arena.

The officers’ violent deaths marked the deadliest incident for law enforcement in California in nearly four decades and the deadliest nationwide since Sept. 11, 2001. Underscoring the magnitude of the tragedy, a somber pageant of uniformed officers from every type of agency — police departments, sheriffs’ offices, highway patrols from across the country and Canada — overwhelmed the arena.

The entire 815-member Oakland Police Department, wearing dress white caps and gloves and black mourning bands on their badges, filled the front rows, saluting their fallen brethren as their flag-draped caskets were carried inside. Loved ones, community members and dignitaries, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, state Attorney General Jerry Brown, made up the rest of the mourners in the arena, with a large overflow crowd filing into the adjacent Oakland Coliseum to watch the service on jumbo screens — more than 20,000 attendees in all.

"These four men were and are heroes, but they weren’t made of steel. They always knew the day may come," Feinstein said in her address to the crowd. "When the time came to make the ultimate sacrifice, their final hour was one of their finest."

President Barack Obama and his first lady Michelle also sent condolences in a letter, read by Oakland police chaplain Jayson Landeza, saying, "their commitment to their fellow man will never be forgotten."

But one of the most affecting tributes came from Oakland Police Capt. Edward Tracey, commander of the SWAT team that cornered parolee Lovelle Mixon in an apartment, prompting the deadly shootout that left Sgt. Romans, Sgt. Sakai and the suspect dead.

The violence began earlier in the day when Mixon allegedly shot Sgt. Dunakin and Officer Hege at a routine traffic stop. "These were my men," Tracey said. "They died doing what they loved: riding motorcycles, kicking in doors, serving on SWAT."

In a speech that brought tears to the crowd, he thanked the citizens who called the police on the suspect after the traffic stop and singled out Clarence Ellis, a 53-year-old former bus driver who stepped forward to perform CPR on Dunakin at the scene.

Tracey also addressed the members of the SWAT team present when Romans and Sakai were killed. "Console yourself knowing that they spent their last moments in your company," he said, also telling the officers not to let the deaths "hold you back."

The officers’ coffins lined the front of the arena. The tall black motorcycle boots that Dunakin and Hege wore were placed by their caskets. Individual eulogies from friends, colleagues and relatives of the officers sketched portraits of dedicated, hard-working family men.

Dunakin, 40, known as "Dunny," was the life of the party and loved looking good on his motorcycle. Hege, 41, volunteered to work overtime at the Coliseum during Raiders home games to see his favorite team. Romans, 43, a former Marine Corps drill sergeant, was an avid hunter and enjoyed cooking up his game. Sakai, 35, was a former Boy Scout who loved backpacking through untouched wilderness.

Private burials for the officers were held later in the day.

Outside the arena, a sea of police vehicles — bomb-squad trucks, motorcycles, Ford Crown Victorias and Dodge Charger cruisers — filled the parking lot. New York City Police Lt. Tommy Ng, who attended the ceremony, said the tragedy brought back memories of Sept. 11. He said he was not surprised by the outpouring of support for his colleagues in Oakland. "When one of us is hurt, all of us are hurt," Ng said before the service. "We’re all brothers."

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Steve Blackwell and three other officers drove two squad cars from Minnesota over three days to attend Friday’s service. "It’s a national tragedy," Blackwell said, "so it cuts pretty deep. We want to let the people of Oakland see that we care. I hope that this city finds strength from this tragedy to move ahead."

For those in the Oakland Police Department, the loss is almost unspeakable.

Gery Gilbert, 49, a traffic clerk at the Eastmont substation, where the slain officers worked, said she had a hard time just getting up Friday morning. She recalled how excited Hege was to be on motorcycle patrol when she last saw him two weeks ago, just one week after he joined the patrol. Ronit Tulloch, a resident of Oakland, said she wanted to attend the funeral to show her gratitude for the work police officers do to protect citizens. "You take it for granted, you forget what they’re really there for," she said. "They just get up every day and do it. It’s amazing."

Oakland Police Memorial

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Last Saturday on March 21st 2009,

I returned home in the evening to numerous phone calls from my co-workers who gave me the shocking news that 4 Oakland Police Officers had been gunned down earlier in the day…

Today, those 4 heroes were honored at a memorial service at Oracle Arena attended by over 22,000 people. Police Officers from across the country, Fire Fighters, Military Personnel, Government dignitaries, and thousands of citizens attended this very emotional and moving ceremony to pay respect to 4 men who were all remembered as beloved Fathers, Sons, Uncles, Brothers, Friends, Partners, and -  Police Officers for the City of Oakland.

Sgt. Mark Dunakin
Sgt. Ervin Romans
Sgt. Daniel Sakai
and Officer John Hege

Most people in life may never actually understand the dangerous challenges police officers face on a daily basis. Some people’s opinion may be limited to that one time they got a ticket for speeding on the freeway, or riding a pwc too fast in a no wake zone, or for talking on a cellphone while driving.

Chances are, you’ve never had to call a cop because you just got robbed at gunpoint by a career criminal parolee who places no value on your life – or anyone else’s. Chances are, you’ve never been involved in a high speed pursuit of a subject considered armed and dangerous. Chances are, you’ve never had to respond and diffuse a violent domestic violence call. Chances are you’ve never been shot at, or had rocks and bottles thrown at you in a riot situation.

We are used to hearing about occasional incidents where a single officer’s life is taken in a situation that took a tragic turn, but in this case 4 officers were killed during the deadly confrontation with this suspect…

We learned today, about the faces behind the badges. We learned about what kind of people Mark, John, Erv, and Dan were away from work. Loving Fathers, sons of proud Fathers and Mothers, Brothers, Uncles, Teachers, role models, coaches, neighbors, and best friends to all. We also learned what exceptional police officers and partners they were – in the city they loved to work.

I’ve attended way too may police funerals in my 22 years as a cop – and the one for a close friend will always hurt the worst – but today’s outpouring of support by so many was beyond overwhelming… I thought about a lot of things today. The pride I have for my profession. The brotherhood of the badge. People’s conceptions of police officers. How bad it sucks when life is unexpectedly taken away in an instant, and good-byes and I love you’s can’t be said. It was clear today to see just how many people loved Mark, John, Erv, and Dan – and it was equally as clear to see how much these 4 larger than life hero’s loved their families, friends, co-workers, and their chosen profession as police officers.

I ask you as well – to love and remember these guys for who they were in life.

For what they represented. For the ultimate sacrifice they made. There are thousands of different jobs and professions in life, but few where your life can change from having a cup of coffee at starbucks, to moments later being engaged in a violent gunfight with a violent criminal. The stern looking cop who might give you a ticket for being reckless and endangering yourself or others, could very well be the same individual who is called to face danger beyond most people’s comprehension – and if they are challenged to make the ultimate sacrifice, they will do so without hesitation, without fear, without regret, and they will do it for you…

Just like Mark, John, Erv, and Dan.

True heroes who will be remembered forever? Absolutely.

Please remember them and their families in your prayers tonight.

I pray for the safety of my own brother – also a police officer in the Bay Area.

I pray for the safety of my partners at work.

I pray for every member of the Oakland Police Department.

And I pray for the safety of police officers around the world who all share one thing in common…

We serve and protect – and we do it with honor – day in and day out.

All who know us – all who love us – and all who work with us know with certainty,

that if the unthinkable happens and we are taken away unexpectedly,

we were doing what we loved more than anything in this world

and regardless of outcome – we will have no regrets.

The pain and sorrow felt within the ranks of the Oakland PD will be present for a long time to come,

and this tragic loss will always be a constant reminder of the risks and dangers

every police officer faces on a daily basis – but the love and support

from the citizens of the cities we serve, makes the pain just alittle bit more bearable…

That was more than evident today and I cannot begin to tell you

just how much that means to the families left behind… 

Sgt. Mark Dunakin
Sgt. Ervin Romans
Sgt. Daniel Sakai
and Officer John Hege

I salute you for who you were as police officers,

I commend you for how you lived your lives at work and home,

I thank you for all you gave to the citizens of Oakland,

and we will never forget you – or your families you left behind…

Rest in peace always –

Jim Lambert