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Friends, Family Mourn 2 Killed in Temecula


About 800 people filled a Temecula church Saturday in an emotional farewell to a popular father and son killed four days earlier when a truck fleeing immigration authorities slammed into their car at an intersection in front of the boy's high school.

Shock and despair that gripped the community Tuesday morning after the horrific crash still hung heavy at Temecula's Rancho Community Church as a mixed crowd of adults and teen-agers mourned the loss of John Davis, 46, and his 18-year-old son, Todd.

"There are several questions on our minds," said the Davis family's pastor, Randy Wikert. "Why did this happen?"

The funeral service was held about 2 miles from the crash scene at Rancho Vista and Margarita roads, where people continued to stop Saturday to look at messages and flowers left along a sidewalk by Todd's classmates and others in the community.

John Davis, a banker, was driving Todd and a friend, 14-year-old student Monisa Emilio, to Temecula Valley High School when a stolen Chevrolet Suburban ran a red light and slammed into their car. The truck, carrying 12 illegal immigrants, then jumped a curb, striking and killing a brother and sister, Gloria Murillo, 17, and Jose Murillo, 16, as they walked to school.

Funeral services for Monisa were held Saturday morning in Ontario. Services for Gloria and Jose are scheduled for Monday in Temecula.

Wikert, pastor of Sunridge Community Church, described John Davis as a conservative, reserved man who loved sports intensely and who competed fiercely in every game or match he played, especially in golf and tennis.

"Sports were his life," Wikert said. "He lived to play golf."

The pastor said Davis once joked that heaven would be full of golf balls.

Friends of John and Todd Davis stepped to the pulpit and described a close father and son who each had a presence that attracted people. Both were intense yet caring, they said.

Dan Gould, one of John's best friends, choked back tears as he came forward. "Look around," he said, gesturing to the crowd that filled the church's rows of folding chairs. "This is John."

One of Todd's friends, Brent Shaffer, likewise had to stop and compose himself as he tried to convey his feelings of the sudden and dramatic loss.

"God took him early for a special reason," said Shaffer, who like Todd's other pallbearers wore a black tuxedo. "He'll always be in my heart. I'll never forget him."

In the last year, Wikert said, John Davis made several entries in his personal log showing he was increasingly concerned about his son, who like other youths his age, was having to make difficult life decisions.

Wikert told the gathering that Todd's life revolved around playing soccer, riding his all-terrain motorcycle, skateboarding, playing his guitar, camping, going to the beach and hating school.

Recently, Todd had been vacillating between accepting or rejecting the born-again faith of his family's church, Wikert said.

"Todd could make us laugh, and he could make us mad," Wikert said the boy's friends told him.

While Todd would at times frustrate his friends by engaging them in debates, and usually winning, he also went out of his way to help others. One time, Wikert said, Todd was so touched by a person holding a "Will work for food" sign on a street corner that he came home, loaded up a bag of goods from the family's kitchen, and delivered it to the person.

Among the family members present at the funeral were John Davis's wife and Todd's mother, Linda, and the Davis' older son, Greg. Also attending were John Davis' parents, three sisters and his grandmother.

Although skies were overcast, a moving moment occurred as Wikert concluded his remarks and a singer began the service's final hymn, Amazing Grace. A burst of sun streamed through the church's skylights, briefly brightening the somber room.

During the hour-long funeral service and the short, graveside ceremony that followed, none of the community's anger toward the Border Patrol was aired.

City officials have demanded a meeting with immigration officials, claiming Border Patrol officers' acted recklessly by pursuing the stolen vehicle off Interstate 15 into the suburban community.

After the graveside service, Temecula City Councilman Karel F. Lindemans said the council will meet Tuesday to consider seeking a restraining order prohibiting the Border Patrol from chasing vehicles at high speeds within the city limits.

"They will have to follow the same rules as the sheriff, the police and the ambulances," Lindemans said.

The councilman said the federal government should be concentrating on controlling illegal immigration in the immediate border region--possibly by deploying the U.S. military--rather than setting up checkpoints on the freeways 60 miles north.

"If they've come this far, let them go," he said.

Lindemans said the five people who lost their lives in the collision have caused the community to stand up to the Border Patrol, which residents say has a history of dangerous high-speed pursuits through their city's streets.

"These five are not victims," Lindemans said, "they're martyrs."

Among Todd Davis' admirers was 12-year-old Danny Gould, who often wrote poems to the teen-ager he looked up to. Wikert read the latest, entitled "Why", to the gathering:

Why did you take them?

Why, oh why?

Everyone's friend

One heck of a guy.

They made us laugh, now we cry,

Why did you take them? Tell me why.

You have your reasons, which we all know,

We love them both, even though

Bad times came and passed by

Why did you take them? Why, oh why.

Todd like my brother, John like my dad,

Thank you Lord for the memories, and the good times we had.

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