Police Explorer follows in fallen East Palo Alto officer's footsteps, tells story 11 years later

A 14-year-old Police Explorer who responded to an officer shot and killed, later became an officer in same city.

The initial call to East Palo Alto Police was a fight at a restaurant. It was a late Saturday afternoon, January 7, 2006.

Officer Richard May was on patrol in the area with police explorer Marco Marquez in the passenger seat of his vehicle. The two responded to the call. Police say May spotted suspect Alberto Alvarez leaving the restaurant and followed him in his patrol car for a block. May then got out and confronted him. A struggle took place, shots were fired and Officer May dropped to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

East Palo Alto Police Officer Dave Carson was one of the first responding officers. He too had a police explorer riding with him, 14-year-old Jose Luaorozco. "I remember driving down Donahoe, down University," said Carson now a Sergeant with East Palo Alto Police. "I looked at Jose and said something's not right."

"I knew something was wrong when Marco got on the radio," said Luaorozco - who 11 years later is now telling his story from that tragic day. "When he got on the radio and said man down, man down."

Luaorozco sat down at East Palo Police Headquarters and recalled the moments that followed. "We arrived and we saw Officer May's car in the middle of the street and I ran right up to him. I saw he had a bullet wound to the head and I was scared, sad."

Sgt. Dave Carson said he remembers leaning on the two police explorers to help secure the scene. "I was asking them to help with things we would normally do, drop some tape for me, look for some evidence and make sure the scene was secure," said Sgt. Carson.

The gunman, Alberto Alvarez, tried to escape, but was captured nearby. Four years later he was convicted of the killing. Officer May was shot multiple times, he was 38 years old.
Prior to his watch in East Palo Alto Richard May served his country, he was a United States Marine.

A few years later, inspired by Richard May, former police explorer Jose Luaorozco became a United States Marine. "I followed in his footsteps - joined the Marine Corps, because he was a Marine." He wasn't done. Two years ago Luaorozco became an East Palo Alto Police Officer just like Richard May.

"I think he would be really proud of how far he's come," said Richard May's widow Diana May. "Gives me chills hearing that Rich inspired him and was that much of an influence on him that he would want to follow in his footsteps like that."

East Palo Alto Police Chief Albert Pardini said the police explorer who was with May that January day in 2006, Marco Marquez, is now a police dispatcher in the Bay Area. He declined to comment for the story, but the Chief says Marquez is still considering becoming a police officer.

Sgt. Dave Carson says he sees a lot of similarities between Officer Jose Luaorozco and Officer May, "To know Richard was to love him. He had this funny sense of humor and Jose has same thing its uncanny."

Jose says  that maybe someday he'll become the Police Chief in East Palo Alto.


 

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