A bridge in Chula Vista has become one of several county monuments gracing the name of one of San Diego’s finest gunned down in the line of duty in 2016.
The Officer Jonathan M. de Guzman Memorial Bridge was dedicated Thursday in Jonathan "J.D." de Guzman’s hometown. The 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department was shot and killed on duty in Southcrest in July of 2016.
Officer de Guzman's partner Officer Wade Irwin was also shot and was seriously injured.
“[de Guzman's] tragic death in the line of duty was a blow to two communities, our Chula Vista community and the City of San Diego,” Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said at the ceremony.
A sign bearing de Guzman’s name will be posted on the side of the bridge that brings Palomar Street commuters across Interstate 805.
“When they pass by they see that name, maybe, just maybe, they'll have that curiosity and ask, especially the kids, ‘Who is Officer 'JD' de Guzman?” SDPD Sgt. Al Ambito said.
Officer de Guzman emigrated from the Philippines when he was 20 years old. During his 16 years on the force, he served on the SWAT and Gang Suppression units. He also received a purple heart when he was stabbed on duty in 2003.
According to his son Jed, Officer de Guzman was a caring father who taught him about working hard and being dedicated.
“It's been difficult these past two years trying to live without my dad,” Jed said. “I have days where I think I'm fine and happy and then I have these other horrible days where I just lose it because I miss him so much.”
Jed said he lives blocks away from the bridge and said it will be “amazing” to see it as often as he will.
The post office on Kuhn Drive in Chula Vista was named in Officer de Guzman’s honor in March of 2017, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer, along with de Guzman’s family and others in the law enforcement community, planted trees in his honor in Southcrest Community Park in November of 2016.
In May 2017, Officer de Guzma’s name was also added to a memorial outside of SDPD headquarters and on the hood of a memorial police cruiser that lists all of the SDPD heroes lost in the line of duty.
"J.D. was larger than life, a great man, a great police officer, a friend, teammate, a father, a husband, a son, and as we always say at the San Diego Police Department, J.D. will never be forgotten," SDPD Chief David Nisleit said.
The San Diego man who is accused of shooting and killing de Guzman, and shooting Irwin, will face the death penalty, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said last December.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 56, is charged with murder, attempted murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer.