A small business in Bonita is hosting a fundraiser Saturday to support the families of two San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officers killed and wounded in the line of duty.
Justin Frazier, owner of Pool City located at 4250 Bonita Rd., was up bright and early Saturday setting up tables for a fundraiser barbecue in the parking lot of his swimming pool business.
Frazier told NBC 7 he has a lot of friends who work in law enforcement and he felt compelled to support the families of SDPD Officer Jonathan “JD” De Guzman and Officer Wade Irwin. The officers were gunned down on duty on July 28 in San Diego’s Southcrest community. De Guzman died while Irwin survived, but with serious wounds.
“I can’t imagine what the family is going through right now, so I figured we’d put this on and try to help them out financially, so at least they don’t have that part to worry about right now,” Frazier said Saturday, as he set up food and drinks for the fundraiser.
As of 7:30 a.m., Frazier said donation were already pouring in, filling the register for the families of the officers. He said anyone was welcome to join the fundraiser and show their support. Any and all donations were acceptable and appreciated, Frazier said.
“We’re trying to get as much money as we can for the families,” he added.
On Friday, thousands of law enforcement officers, private citizens and loved ones lined the streets of San Diego for an emotional procession for De Guzman. Citizens waved American flags and saluted the police motorcade as it made its way across the county.
The procession passed by Frazier’s shop and he said he couldn’t help but feel deep sadness as he saw those police vehicles drive down the street.
“It’s just horrible,” he said, trying to hold back tears. “I couldn’t imagine going to work one day and just not coming home to my kids. And for that officer to give the ultimate sacrifice for our protection – says a lot about him.”
Frazier’s fundraiser was set to start at 11 a.m. in the South Bay.
The event was organized by employee Sarah Hunter, who told NBC 7 she felt compelled to help the De Guzman family because her father is a police officer, too, only in another city.
"Police officers are husbands and wives, and fathers and sons and daughters. They’re just like us – except they put their life on the line every night," Hunter said. "It could’ve been any of them that were shot and killed. It could’ve been my dad."
Hunter hoped the De Guzman family felt the love and support from the fundraiser.
“We take care of our own. The ‘thin blue line’ family is getting thicker by the day because someone has to look out for the people who look out for us,” she added.
Some members of De Guzman's family attended Saturday's event, including his aunt, Emy Malaban, and his cousin, Mariver Hernandez. Both women said their family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support they have received.
"I’m overwhelmed with all the people that help. It really is a nice brotherhood," Malaban told NBC 7. "I can’t explain how we feel, because we are at a loss."
"This whole week has been emotional. The amount of love and support we've been getting from everyone is helping us stay strong," said Hernandez.
Donations for the fallen officer’s family can also be mailed to:
San Diego Police Officers Association
8388 Vickers Street
San Diego, CA 92111
Checks can be made payable to the SDPOA; write “Officer Jonathan De Guzman” in the memo line.
De Guzman was a 16-year veteran of the force, beloved by his colleagues and adored by his family.
The officer survived a stabbing on the job in 2003 and was awarded a Purple Heart by the SDPD for his valor. SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman has said that even after that incident, De Guzman returned to the force and his passion to protect and serve never wavered.
Irwin has been with the police department for nine years. Zimmerman has described him as a caring man, also devoted to making the community a safer place, day in, day out. Irwin remains hospitalized. Zimmerman said the officer is expected to make a full recovery and is eager to get back to work.
Both officers work with the SDPD’s Gang Unit, and are husbands and fathers. De Guzman leaves behind two children, Jonathan Jr. and Amira. Irwin has a 19-month-old toddler.
According to prosecutors and SDPD investigators, the officers were gunned down on Acacia Grove Way when Irwin stopped suspect Jesse Michael Gomez, 52, and asked if he lived in the area. Prosecutors said this week that Gomez opened fire at point-blank range on both officers – shooting Irwin in the throat and hitting De Guzman with multiple bullets. The attack happened so quickly, prosecutors said De Guzman never had a chance to draw his service weapon.
The shooting remains under investigation as officials try to piece together what led up to the gunfire as the nation still reels from recent killings of police officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The shooting has shaken San Diego.
Gomez, a construction worker with a criminal record dating back to 1983, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the shooting of the officers as he was arraigned from a hospital room. Gomez was wounded when Irwin, fired back as the suspect fled, police said. Gomez was arrested after the shooting when police officers found him wounded in a ravine near the crime scene.
In addition to the enormous show of public support at De Guzman’s procession Friday, San Diegans have been dropping off flowers, candles and heartfelt notes at a plaque that rests in front of the SDPD headquarters in downtown San Diego. The plaque is dedicated to the department’s fallen officers. Since 1913, the city has lost 33 officers in the line of duty.