DAVIS, Calif. (KTVU) - A 22-year-old police officer who had been on the job a few months died late Thursday night after being shot in northern California by a suspect who later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Davis police said Officer Natalie Corona was shot after responding to a triple-traffic collision about 6:45 p.m. Thursday in the community west of Sacramento, in the area of Fifth and C streets near downtown.
"A person walked up and shots were fired,” Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said at a late night news conference.
On Friday morning, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department crime scene investigators told KTVU that the suspect hit several vehicles including the patrol car three times, a fire truck four times and several cars on the street. Shell casings were found all over the street. The suspect was not part of the initial accident, officials said.
Corona was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where she was pronounced dead.
Pytel said the department hasn't had an officer die in the line of duty since 1959.
Following the shooting, police issued a citywide shelter in place order as officers searched for the suspect, who was later found in a house about a block away from the shooting.
Police have not identified the suspect, nor determined what prompted the shooting.
Corona began as a part-time employee in the Davis Police Department in 2016.
She finished the police academy last July, and completed the field training just before Christmas.
“She was a rising star in the department,” said Pytel said. "I've known her for a couple of years. And she started as a part-time employee volunteer. And I can tell you I have never seen anybody who's worked harder in a part-time capacity and be more motivated to a police officer than Natalie."
He said Corona was "just full, full of life and full of energy, and just an absolute pleasure to be around. She loved being around everybody in the department, and she just worked like you can’t believe."
He said there was a time that just before going to the academy, the department ran out of funding for her paid position, and she still came in and volunteered without pay and put in full-time hours until she ended up going to the police academy.
Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that he and his wife are "terribly saddened to learn of the death....Officer Corona was protecting her community from harm when she was tragically shot in the line of duty.”
Corona came from a law enforcement family.
Her father, Merced Coronoa, is a retired 26-year veteran deputy with the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, who is is now a county supervisor. Davis police shared a photo of him helping to pin on her badge the day whe became a police officer. She is also survived by her mother, Lupe, and sister, Jackie.
"We’re just absolutely devastated about the loss," Pytel said. "And just very sorry for the family. I’ve spoken to her parents and I can tell you that this is just been devastating.“
This has been a deadly year for California police officers. Cpl. Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department was shot to death on Dec. 26, during a DUI stop. His alleged killer, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an undocumented immigrant. was found after a manhunt and his now facing charges for his murder.
On Nov. 7, Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus was killed during a mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar. He was shot in the heart by a California Highway Patrol officer who had joined him in a firefight with the gunman, David Long, who also killed himself.