Mourning continued Saturday for the second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy to be slain in the line of duty in just over two weeks.
Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, who had joined the department less than a year ago, was shot Friday while responding to a domestic violence and child custody call near Lake Elsinore and died later at a nearby hospital.
The suspect was shot by deputies and hospitalized in critical condition.
Sheriff Chad Bianco announced the deputy’s death Friday during a 9 p.m. news conference outside Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.
“I shouldn’t be here tonight having to do this again,” Bianco said. “I’m devastated to tell of the loss of another of our deputy sheriffs who was killed in the line of duty today.”
The Riverside Sheriff’s Association called Calhoun’s death the loss of “another hero way too early in life.”
“Deputy Darnell Calhoun answered the call to serve, defend and protect our community. … Deputy Calhoun was a leader in community policing, believed in people and his ability to speak to the community with respect; meet them where they are in life; try to understand their needs; and work together to find solutions to the issues they were facing. To Darnell, being a Police Officer in San Diego and Deputy in Riverside was about making the community a better and safer place for everyone.
“Our heart aches for the family, friends, and fellow deputies of Darnell Calhoun, and we ask everyone to take a moment to remember his selfless service.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the following statement Saturday morning:
“Jennifer and I are heartbroken by the loss of Deputy Calhoun, a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all those he served with at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, who are mourning the painful loss of another deputy weeks ago. Deputy Calhoun died a hero and his bravery and selfless service will always be remembered.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta also offered his condolences.
“Deputy Darnell Calhoun represented the best of the California spirit — protecting and serving the public with valor,” Bonta said Saturday. “On behalf of the nearly 6,000 men and women of the California Department of Justice, I extend our deepest condolences to Deputy Calhoun*s family, colleagues, and the entire Riverside community. His service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
Law enforcement agencies from throughout Southern California also offered their condolences.
“Our Partners @RSO have suffered another unimaginable loss,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna tweeted. “Dep Darnell Calhoun gave his life in the service of others. Sheriff Bianco, on Behalf of the @LASDHQ, I offer my sincerest condolences. My Family, agency, and @CountyofLA will hold you and @RSO in our hearts & prayers.”
“To our brothers and sisters of (the) Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept., no words can express our deepest sorrow for the loss of Deputy Darnell Calhoun,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are for you, his family, and his friends. We will honor him, mourn him, and stand beside you in every way.”
“We mourn the loss of Deputy Darnell Calhoun who gave his life in the line of duty,” the California Highway Patrol tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones, and the entire law enforcement community. We are forever grateful for the sacrifices made by our officers to keep our communities safe.”
The incident began around 4:20 p.m. Friday, when a dispatcher took a call and “in the background she heard voices and it sounded like a confrontation was occurring,” Bianco said.
Deputies were dispatched to the 18500 block of Hilldale Lane, just east of Grand Avenue, in the unincorporated community bordering Lake Elsinore. Calhoun was the first deputy at the scene, but “we’re not sure about the initial contact,” Bianco said.
A host of sheriff’s deputies entered the home with guns drawn in an apparent search effort.
Nearby Lakeland Village Middle School, where students participating in an after-school program were still on campus, went on lockdown during the incident, witnesses said.
“The second deputy on the scene found Deputy Calhoun wounded in the street,” Bianco said. “A gunfight ensued with the suspect who was shot. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital. He is currently in critical condition.”
Reports from the scene indicated the suspect may have also been taken Inland Valley Medical Center, but there was no immediate confirmation.
The suspect was reportedly in custody. It was unclear whether other suspects were being sought.
Bianco described Calhoun as a “husband, a son and would have been a dad,” adding that the slain deputy’s wife is pregnant.
He said there wasn’t one person who had a negative thing to say about Calhoun, who joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in February 2022 after spending two years with the San Diego Police Department.
“He was always so positive,” Bianco said.
The sheriff said Calhoun also has a “fantastic family”.
“I remember when he was sworn in,” Bianco said. “I hugged his mother and told her I would take care of him.
“We are sadly in a time when some people have no respect for other people and no respect for law enforcement. Those people are willing to engage in gunfights with law enforcement over minor things.”
Late Friday, a procession of law enforcement officers escorted Calhoun’s body from Inland Valley Medical Center to the coroner’s office in Perris.
Funeral services were pending.
The shooting came 15 days after Deputy Isaiah Albert Cordero was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley Dec. 29, which had been the first line-of-duty death of a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy in 15 years.