POMONA (CBSLA) – California Gov. Jerry Brown and hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state attended a funeral service Thursday to remember a Pomona police officer, husband and father of two who was shot and killed earlier this month following a pursuit and foot chase with a suspect who later barricaded himself in an apartment for more than 15 hours.
“Officer Gregg Casillas laid down his life to protect and serve our community… his loss will forever be mourned in this city,” Mayor Tim Sandoval told the gathered crowd.
Thirty-year-old Greggory Casillas of Upland was killed March 9 in the 1400 block of South Palomares Street. A second officer was wounded in the jaw, but survived.
“There are no words capable of easing your pain,” Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri said to Casillas’ family.
“Gregg believed that good should prevail over evil, he dedicated his life to make that so. He paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved,” Olivieri added.
His accused killer, 38-year-old Isaias De Jesus Valencia has been charged with capital murder and special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer and murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.
The service at Purpose Church in Pomona was followed by a procession to Forest Lawn-Covina Hills Cemetery.
“I didn’t know how big his heart was,” Casillas’ father, Marine veteran Gregory Casillas said. “As of now, I do know.”
Deputy Christian Guevara, his former classmate at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Academy, spokes affectionately about his friend.
“I know that he’ll be with me on the streets, he’ll be with me when I’m in a time of need, when I need to make a decision, he’ll be my guardian angel for the rest of my career,” Guevara said.
Police said the incident that culminated in Casillas’ death began just after 9 p.m. on March 9, when Pomona police were dispatched to a reckless vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle refused to stop, and a chase ensued, culminating in a traffic collision, Bergner said. The suspect then jumped out of the vehicle and ran, prompting a foot chase.
The suspect, Valencia, ran into the apartment complex in the 1400 block of South Palomares Street, entered a unit and barricaded himself in a bedroom. When the two officers tried to make contact with him, he opened fire, hitting them both.
Los Angeles County firefighters rushed the two officers to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where Casillas died. The other wounded officer, identified as Alex Nguyen, survived after being struck in the jaw.
Valencia was arrested the following day, March 10, following a SWAT standoff of more than 15 hours. Police said Valencia had a lengthy arrest record prior to the shooting.
Casillas had been with the department since 2014, though he was only sworn in as a Pomona police officer in September 2017 and was just about to finish field training when he was killed.
He is survived by his wife Claudia and two sons Gregorio, 4, and 5-month-old Mariano.
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