San Jose community pays respects to fallen officer with somber procession
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU and Wires) -- Scores of people lined the streets of San Jose early Wednesday evening to pay tribute to a fallen San Jose police officer being honored with a somber procession.
More than a dozen motorcycle officers led the way as the hearse carrying the body of Officer Michael Johnson left the county medical examiner's office in San Jose.
It traveled about eight miles to a funeral home in Los Gatos.
San Jose firefighters were also among those who stopped and saluted as the procession went by.
Law enforcement officers from far and away are expected to attend a memorial for officer Johnson and plans for the service could be announced as soon as Thursday, a police union spokesman said Wednesday.
A steady flow of officers came into the 4th Street headquarters of the San Jose Police Officers' Association Wednesday as the union fielded a slew of messages of sympathy by phone and social media, union spokesman Tom Saggau said. "The outpouring has been so overwhelming we can't keep up," Saggau said.
All day Wednesday, the San Jose Police Department continued its investigation into what set off a 57-year-old man, causing him to shoot and kill Officer Johnson Tuesday night.
The man's neighbors are wondering the same thing.
KTVU got a look inside Scott Dunham's apartment, which is now in disarray. That's after police spent much of the night going over it for evidence. They're trying to figure out why Dunham would shoot and kill a police officer as he responded to a call for service.
"I was devastated. I thought oh my God. I thought it's going on right here. And I was scared," exclaimed neighbor Irene Duran.
It was a chaotic and frightening scene on Tuesday night. On the police scanner, you could hear the call for help, "Lincoln 10.. officer down, officer down! Copy, officer down, officer down."
Officers were at the Senter Road apartment complex for a call of a suicidal man with a gun. As they arrived, gunfire rang out. Officer Michael Johnson was struck and killed.
Chief Larry Esquivel described Johnson as 14 year veteran who was also a Field Training Officer who worked in the area. "As a chief, this is not something that we ever want to do. It's a sad day for law enforcement and for the police department in our community."
The gunman has been identified as Dunham. KTVU confirmed that although Dunham had no recent trouble with the law in Santa Clara County, in 1996, he pleaded no contest to three misdemeanors, including two counts of assault and battery.
"It's a quiet place, never been like that," said neighbor Rudy Garay, who lives just a couple doors down from Dunham. He said he would say hello to him every day around 5:30 a.m. when both men would leaving for work. He called Dunham and his wife nice people.
Officials at the Foothill De Anza College District told KTVU that Dunham worked for the district for about 14 years in construction and gardening. They said his long employment was a sign he was successful there before retiring in 2012.
It's still unclear if Dunham was killed by officers returning fire or if he took his own life.
Meanwhile, police released a statement from Johnson's family Wednesday addressing their loss.
"Last night Officer Michael Johnson of the San Jose Police Department was shot and killed while trying to help the community he loved. We are deeply saddened by his loss and cannot express in writing how deep a hole in our hearts we are left with by his passing. We appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers we have received from the community, both near and far and take comfort in your sharing our pain and in your recognition that police officers lay it on the line day in and day out as they work to make the world a better place.
This is the statement the family intends to make and greatly appreciate having the space we need to allow our family to grieve and heal in private. We love you Mike our husband, son, brother, uncle and hero. Rest in peace."
At Pacific Judo and Ju Jitsu Academy in San Jose, head instructor Angelo Caruana told KTVU Johnson started at his studio years ago as a teenager, earning his black belt along the way. He said Johnson taught classes there without pay as a way of giving back to the community.
"I'm sure we'll have a special tribute workout among the black belts. It will be the kind of workout he liked -- long, hard and painful, and at the end of it we'll go celebrate his life," said Caruana.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Saggau of the police union were among those to issue statements of sympathy today about Johnson's death.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement, "This is San Jose's darkest day." Brown today had flags at the Capitol in Sacramento flown at half-staff in tribute to Johnson and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors president Dave Cortese ordered flags flown at half-mast at all county facilities until April.
Johnson was the 12th San Jose police officer to die while on duty since the department's founding in 1849.