10 Years Later: Widow of slain Martinez police Sgt. shares story for the first time

- The sound of a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace cut through the silence outside the Martinez Police Department. 

A quiet crowd of officers, in blue uniforms, gathered to remember a man for his heroic sacrifice. 

“Today we honor one of our heroes who made a tremendous difference in our community,” said Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal. 

On September 6, 2008 Sgt. Paul Starzyk responded to a call at a hair salon on Pacheco Boulevard. 

An angry gunman was terrorizing customers as he looked for his estranged wife. 

He then went to a nearby apartment and held three women and three children captive before blindly firing from behind the door, hitting Sgt. Starzyk in the chest. 

"It's like yesterday," said Shannon Starzyk. 

The one-in-a-million shot, killed the love of her life.

"When the doctor told me that they did everything that they could do, I couldn't believe it. My world changed forever," she said. 

After the ceremony marking 10 years since her husband's death, Shannon sat down with KTVU.

She has never talked publicly about that tragic day or the grief that she says was so deep life became paralyzing. 

"It was like watching a move of my life flash before me," Shannon said. "And try to figure out how I am going to tell my kids that their daddy isn't coming home." 

Photographs tell the story of a happy family. 

The couple was raising three young children, aged 1, 4 and 5 at the time. 

They had plans for summer vacations, birthday celebrations, graduations and weddings. 

"I never imagined that my daughter, when she gets married, won't have her father to walk her down the aisle," said Shannon. 

Shannon was working for the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department when she met Sgt. Starzyk. So she was familiar with the risks and dangers of law enforcement. She says someone has to stand the line between good and evil. 

"They are the sheep dogs, protecting the sheep from the wolves," Shannon said. "Those sheep dogs have families. They have feelings and day in and day out, they do a job that others wouldn't do and they do it with honor, dignity and integrity."

After her husband's death, Shannon quite the sheriff's department. 

She has since returned and is honoring her husband's legacy by training veteran and rookie officers. 
 

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