Tara O'Sullivan may have only been on the job with the Sacramento Police Department for a few months when she was shot while responding to a domestic violence call last week, but law enforcement officials from across California mourned her Thursday as a longtime friend.
O'Sullivan, 26, was the first Sacramento police officer killed on duty in 20 years and her death hit close to home for colleagues.
"She loved being a police officer," Chief Daniel Hahn told a mourners Thursday at a church outside Sacramento. Even though O'Sullivan was young, Hahn said, she had already done a big job.
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"Tara made a real difference in countless lives in just a short amount of time," Hahn said.
O'Sullivan was shot in what authorities described as an ambush while she helped a woman retrieve belongings from a home on June 19.
It was 45 minutes before police got to O'Sullivan while a heavily armed gunman engaged in an hours-long standoff with officers before his capture.
O'Sullivan later died at a hospital. Her parents told reporters this week they would never place blame on any of the officers who responded to her shooting. "We know that this police department provided the best training for Tara. For that we are always grateful," said her father, Denis O'Sullivan.
Colleagues said O'Sullivan had been working toward a career in law enforcement from the time she was a teenager. And they described the Sacramento State University graduate as having what it takes to make it her life's work.
Recounting O'Sullivan's competitiveness, Brett Kaneyuki, of the Sacramento police academy, said the academy's gym will be named for her.
"She dominated it," he said.
The memorial service drew not just law enforcement officials but also plenty of onlookers.
Along parts of the roughly 30-mile procession following the memorial service, families gathered waving American flags, and stopping for a moment to pay their respects to a young officer who may never have patrolled their suburbs and bedroom communities but whose killing still touched them.
Adel Sambrano Ramos, who is charged in the shooting, made his first court appearance Monday. He is charged with murder, which could lead to the death penalty. Ramos, 45, also is charged with the attempted murder of O'Sullivan's training officer and illegally possessing two assault-style rifles. He has not entered a plea.