Firefighters Serve Comfort Food, Kind Words to Grief-Stricken Oakland Police

LexisNexis(R) logo

Meredith May
Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

When awful, unexplainable things happen, sometimes the best thing is a warm meal served by a friend who has been there before.

That's why Oakland firefighters loaded up on hamburger and tri-tip steak and took over the kitchen at the Oakland Police Officers Association, to serve comfort food to a force reeling from the slaying of four of its officers last weekend.

Firefighters lit the grill and worked the room, offering round-the-clock meals and conversation since Monday morning.

"We are there to talk to the guys," said Lt. Chuck Garcia, president of the Oakland branch of the International Association of Firefighters. "This is a big, crazy city. We have to be there for each other."

Two professional counselors and a medical doctor also are offering their services.

Grief is rippling from department headquarters on Seventh Street throughout the city after the shooting deaths Saturday of Sgts. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy, Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville, and Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley, by Lovelle Mixon, a 26-year-old parolee whom police had pulled over in a routine traffic stop. Mixon was killed in a shootout with SWAT officers.

Removed from ventilator

Motorcycle Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord was removed from a ventilator Monday night at Highland Hospital in Oakland after donating organs.

"Everyone is trying to understand what the hell just happened here," said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

The outpouring of support from the firefighters - and from elected officials such as city Councilman Larry Reid and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who have been coming to the association offices every day since the killings - has been an enormous help to officers who want to talk, he said.

Many officers also have opened their homes for grief gatherings, Arotzarena said.

Libraries are collecting cards, condolence books are coming from City Hall, Whole Foods sent more food, and flowers are taking up half the police station foyer.

Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland police, said he is getting several hundred e-mails a day from well-wishers.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "Police agencies from all over the country are coming to the funeral. Boston is sending 50, I've heard from New York, Baltimore, and all the California agencies are coming."

$40,000 donation

Although Arotzarena had not yet tallied the donations, the largest one so far came Tuesday from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Palm Springs. The tribe sent $40,000, to be divided equally among the four officers' families, along with a personal letter from tribal Chairman Robert Martin.

Dennis Miller, a member of the tribal council, said the tribe was touched by similar violence in the late 1990s, when two sheriff's deputies were murdered during a domestic violence call in Riverside County.

"There are ... orphans now," said Miller, referring to the children of the slain Oakland police officers. "Our donation is a way to send a signal that we're not going to tolerate this kind of violence anymore."

Funeral for the officers: The public memorial for Oakland's four fallen police officers will be 11 a.m. Friday at Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way.-- The services will be led by the Rev. Jayson Landeza, chaplain of the Oakland Police Department. Organizers are expecting more than 12,000, including uniformed officers from police agencies around the country.-- Overflow crowds will be invited to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, where a big screen will broadcast the service.-- Parking lots open at 7:30 a.m., and the arena will open by 9 a.m.-- Drivers should use the 66th Avenue exit off Interstate 880. Guests are encouraged to take public transportation to the arena, accessible by the Coliseum BART Station and AC Transit.-- Find more information and directions at Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Alameda County has established a memorial fund. Mail contributions to San Francisco Police Credit Union, attn.: OPD Memorial Fund, 6689 Owens Drive, Suite 125, Pleasanton, CA 94588. Make checks payable to OPD Memorial Fund.
Rudy Wilson of Oakland put his sentiments on a sign at Tuesday evening's vigil on MacArthur Boulevard for the slain officers. Brant Ward / The Chronicle
March 26, 2009

Copyright 2009 San Francisco Chronicle
All Rights Reserved

Views: 233

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

This is the way things should be, one big emergency services family. Warms my heart to hear this. My thoughts and prayers are with the families.
Agreed We are all in this together....this is the kind of support that should happen ALL the time not just in times of tragedy......Support Your Brothers and Sisters of ALL emergancy services!!!!!!!!!!!!
You are correct when bad things happen to one branch of public service the others should step forward and help out I have always said that we may all wear different uniforms and use different tools but when it comes down to it were all the same under the badge and all have families we would like to go home to God bless these brave men and there families
even though police and fire have always at least in my part kinda did the whole we are better thing, really at the end of the day were all just men and women trying to make a living for our kids and loved ones.

i hope the best for the family and friends, i never understood why criminals do such stupid acts of violence.
This warms my heart ...way to go Oakland Firefighters.....this is the way it should always be! Way to go..supporting each other..
I also agree...Once you are in a family of firemen or officers they are all there for one another. I am so proud of being associated with all of them. Even though they are not related by blood, they are still my family....I think it is wonderful how everyone is stepping up to help out... I know I wish there was a way I could help out besides praying for their families as well as the Oakland fire department. I am in Pennsylvania and it is rough to read all the bad things.....Lord, Please continue to be with the other members of the Oakland fire department men and women, Hold the families of the slain in your arms and comfort them, Lord thank you for a wonderful community of people to step up and help one another. Lord If we ALL would step up and help one another we would all live in a better world....Thank you Lord...AMEN...
God bless them for their efforts and time. Plus grace to the Police who suffered this lose.
This is what it's all about. A TRUE BAND OF BROTHERHOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WE are a band of brothers and sisters in all . Is there a website we can go to to send a heartfelt note !!
I drive cab normally at night, and its nice to have someone else out there to help. Back me and help me deal with some of the people I have had to deal with, to include from overly friendly men, to crack/meth heads, angry drunks and abusive husband wanting to make my cab part of his drama.

Be it a drunk customer who does not want to pay, or some meth/crack head who got me worried.

Or just to have someone to respond when I find someone passed out at -40F along the side of the road. Or when I drank and was the one passed out or trying to. Or the homeless, most are good people. We have a real problem with chronic drunks here and its a dirty job, and someone got to deal with it. Or yes first on scene to make things secure so EMS/Fire can do their job. First to deal with a auto accident, or domestic issue, or to stop some moron from driving while drunk, or helping local bar security deal with some nut case, to includes ones that have some reason in their mind to carry firearms (wanna be gang bangers?

Can be tough to have to deal with the less than happy side of life. And sadly with our troopers it is often alone. Be it some mile post, driving fast as sanity will allow, or go to a village to arrest someone who might not want to be arrested and not sure if the locals want them arrested.

or the first to have to arrest someones father or mother, cause of child endangerment issues or remove children from a possible unsafe home. From having to deal with someone who had met the local wild life hard, such as a 1000 pound moose. Or deal with some nut case alone on a hill top, shooting at people for unknown reasons (likely a Vietnam era vet that has finally lost it? or someone who needs to sober up or not sure what else, Alaska attracts/attracted alot of lost people over the years..

You never know. I found it odd when told that the Troopers are the Hazwopper people, but many do not have the training for it and the ICStructure, so how to deal with the spill of a tanker or train, or the local refinery? Not a thing I wanted to deal with and I was Hazopper trained, but it was a National Guard thing, so glad to back them up.

Or dealing with grieving families and crowds wanting to know. Tried to do the work of crowd control and scene control and its ... I go to respect them for it. Or who else goes in to bag up the dead? Helped move the dead, but.. Actually do the collection and bagging..

Heh, not always got along with the police, troopers, MP, SF (Security Forces if your Air Force) and like, but got to respect them, and moron their loss..

Life ends too damn quick. But ... the insanity of some people. I understand it was just a simple traffic stop?

Or an accident, or other problems.. Not that I can not handle some of them, but not always alone.

Yes I know the above is often common knowledge and seen by many in the EMS/Fire and like jobs, but ..

So in closing, turn to your family and friends and say hi, express what love you have and say your love them or just they are wanted..

This is a nice thing to read. I get tired of reading all about firefighters who are getting into trouble because they are doing something really stupid. This is the way it should be. Firefighter's giving support to the police department when they are in need and vice versa. We all work together and we all should support each other in a time such as this one. Thanks for the great story....
This echo's my feelings of "why cant we all just get along?" WE are all in this together. Rather some want to admit it or not. We have Police officers on our VFD and they (if not on duty) are some of the first to respnd, and last to leave.

Reply to Discussion


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2021   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service