Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Community rallying support to honor slain Riverside County Deputy Darnell Calhoun

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LAKE ELSINORE, California. (KABC) — Vigils will be held this week to commemorate Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Darnell Calhoun, who was killed on duty Friday.

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

Friends and community members are now mourning and are doing what they can to support the MP’s family.

“Officer Calhoun put on his boots in the morning, expecting to go home at night, and suddenly he’s not there,” said Mike Birch, a member of the Lake Elsinore community.

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

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

Calhoun’s family released a statement through the sheriff’s office on Monday:

“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 surrogate. His life, even if cut short, is a blessing. Our faith in Jesus will get us through this and we know that we will be reunited with Darnell. His life, dedication and devotion to his family and community will remain an inspiration. He was sincere, kind, loyal and had the heart of a servant. We take great comfort in knowing that Darnell has lived a life well lived. We are grateful to our community, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, and law enforcement agencies across the country for building us. While we respect and are grateful to the community, we ask the media to respect our privacy at this difficult time. Thank you for your continued love and prayers.”

The Riverside Sheriff’s Association has started a fundraiser to help Calhoun’s family.

Calhoun’s death comes just two weeks after Isaiah Cordero, another Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, was killed on the job.

“Our law enforcement officers are here to protect the community and right now it’s getting very dangerous for them,” said Lake Elsinore’s Craig Simmons.

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

“He grew up here, so everyone 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 also worked in the restaurant during the day and at night at the Oak Grove Center, a non-profit Murrieta organization that counsels at-risk children.

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

“I’ve never felt great about it,” said Sorensen. “I love our cops and sheriffs, but it just wasn’t for me. He was just too cute for me.”

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

“We are all so hurt and shocked and just trying to figure out how to gather around this family and support mom and dad and of course Vanessa and these two boys and soon three kids,” Sorensen said.

Two candlelight vigils are planned in honor of Deputy Calhoun. The first is Tuesday at 6 p.m. in front of the Lake Elsinore Sheriff Station. Another is scheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Murrietta Town Square Park Amphitheater.

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