Law enforcement officers across the nation are taking flak after a 46-year-old black man died in police custody late last month — and sadly, that growing public sentiment against police has had some fatal consequences.
A police officer was killed and two more were injured in Santa Cruz County, California on Saturday when they trailed a suspect into an ambush, according to ABC 7 in Los Angeles.
ABC 7 reported that a call came in around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday of a suspicious vehicle that appeared to have guns and bomb-making devices inside. As deputies arrived on the scene, the van left — but the officers were following close behind.
The van then turned into a driveway, which is when everything went sideways.
An ambush had been set up, and the officers drove right into the middle of it. As they exited their vehicles, they faced gunfire and improved explosive devices (IEDs), ABC 7 reported.
When the dust settled, one officer was dead and two more were injured.
The deceased officer has since been identified as 38-year-old Damon Gutzwiller, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to ABC 7.
The two officers who were wounded, one of whom was from the California Highway Patrol, have not yet been identified. Their conditions remain unclear.
“The worst day”
Needless to say, local authorities were devastated over the news of the attack and subsequent death of Sergeant Gutzwiller.
“In my 32-year career, this is the worst day I’ve experienced,” Sheriff Jim Hart, of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office, said, according to ABC 7. “Words cannot express the pain we feel for Damon and his family. He was the kind of person we all hope to be.”
Hart also characterized Gutzwiller as a “hero,” saying that his department is “grateful to have known him” and that they “mourn with his family.”
According to ABC 7, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also released a statement following the news:
Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who was tragically killed while on duty today. He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the community and as a loving husband and father.