While much of the nation is confronting the ongoing killings of civilians by police officers, in Santa Cruz County, the life of Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was honored Wednesday. Gutzwiller was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.
The day of remembrance started with a morning procession. Then, thousands of community members and uniformed law enforcement officers gathered at the Cabrillo College football field. Many more viewed the service online.
Bagpipers escorted his casket draped in an American flag into the stadium. Gutzwiller, 38, and his wife Favi have a young son and are expecting their second child later this month.
Holding back tears, Favi Gutzwiller spoke about how she wished everyone had the pleasure of knowing her husband.
“Some things are too big, too beautiful to describe, and a picture will never do it justice. That’s how it is with Damon,” said Gutzwiller.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart knew Gutzwiller for 20 years, since he was 18 and started volunteering with the sheriff's department.
“We should count ourselves lucky that he grew up here and made us part of his family. And he leaves a lasting mark on this community and on those of us who loved him,” said Hart.
As mourners celebrated the life of Gutzwiller, Air Force Sergeant Steven Carrillo, 32, is charged with his murder. Law enforcement officials say Carrillo allegedly ambushed Gutzwiller and other officers with gunfire and homemade explosives on June 6, in Ben Lomond. Carrillo is also facing federal charges for the murder of a security officer in Oakland on May 29. Federal officials allege Carrillo has ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement. The charges include the possibility of life in prison without parole or the death penalty.