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Thousands attend funeral for slain San Diego police officer

About 3,500 family members, friends, fellow Marines and law enforcement officers, Gov. Jerry Brown and other public officials honor Jeremy Henwood as a 'true warrior' with a kind heart and a sunny personality.

August 13, 2011|By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
  • Officers salute as the casket of San Diego Police Officer and Marine Reserve Maj. Jeremy Henwood is carried from the Rock Church after his funeral Friday. Henwood, 36, died early Sunday after being shot in his squad car.
Officers salute as the casket of San Diego Police Officer and Marine Reserve… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from San Diego

Jeremy Henwood, who survived three combat tours as a Marine but was mortally wounded during a routine patrol as a San Diego police officer, was remembered Friday as a "true warrior who stood in harm's way."

Police Capt. Lawrence McKinney, commander of the mid-city division where Henwood served, told 3,500 people assembled at the Rock Church that Henwood "went boldly into harm's way, knowing full well that he might not come back someday."

McKinney urged the crowd to remember Henwood's courage and dedication to public service as a Marine and a police officer, rather than "the cowardly act of one lost soul," a reference to Dejon Marquee White, 23, Henwood's assailant.

Henwood, 36, died early Sunday of wounds suffered Saturday afternoon when he was shot while sitting in his patrol car in the City Heights neighborhood.

White was killed soon after by police when he refused to surrender and reached for a shotgun — believed to be the same weapon used to attack Henwood. No motive for the shooting has been revealed.

The police chief has called Henwood's killing "an assassination."

White has also been linked to the shooting of a 23-year-old man in the parking lot of an In-N-Out restaurant in nearby El Cajon just minutes before Henwood's shooting. Martin Hana, an Iraqi immigrant, survived but remains in critical condition.

If there was a theme to the tearful memorial service that lasted two and a half hours, it was that many of Henwood's fellow officers and Marines were not ready to say goodbye to the tall Texan known for his sunny personality, "can-do" spirit and love of strenuous sports such as sky diving and skiing.

The Rev. Miles McPherson, senior pastor at the Rock Church, told the police officers, Marines, public officials and others in the audience that while they are currently mourning his death, they will see Henwood again in the afterlife.

"It's winter now, but springtime is coming," he said. "Jeremy is gone but the story goes on.... You will meet him again."

Marine Maj. Ted Bonanno, his voice breaking, said much the same.

"I'll see you in heaven, my friend," he said. "Semper Fidelis."

A procession of about 600 police and fire department cars from multiple agencies traveled to the church in Point Loma. Among the public officials in attendance were Gov. Jerry Brown, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis.

Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said that in tracking Henwood's actions before the shooting, police found surveillance tape from a local McDonald's restaurant with images of the officer buying a hamburger for a timid 10-year-old boy. That act of kindness exemplified Henwood, the chief said.

"God bless Jeremy," he added.

Henwood's parents, Beverly and Robbie Henwood, received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd. His mother is a physician, his father a dentist. They said they had wanted him to find a job closer to their home in San Antonio but that, in the last week, they have come to understand how much he loved San Diego and its Police Department.

Born in Canada, Henwood grew up in Texas, attended the University of Texas and was an enlisted Marine before becoming an officer. He had been a San Diego officer for four years.

A member of the Marine Reserve, Henwood was promoted posthumously to major. He had deployed twice to Iraq and had just returned from Afghanistan in May.

Between sobs, his sister Emily said, "I am really proud to be here and to see his extended family.... I think it goes without saying that Jeremy was a great man and a hero to his country."

Looking at the flag-draped casket, she said, "I didn't say it enough to him, but Jeremy, I love you and I always will."

Burial is set for a national cemetery in San Antonio.

With his parents' approval, Henwood's organs were used for transplants. Two kidney patients were recipients.

"Even in death, Jeremy was saving lives," said his brother, Robbie Jr.

Los Angeles Times staff photographer Don Bartletti contributed to this report.

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