‘She died doing what she loved to do': Slain officer's father mourns daughter

The memorial to slain Davis police officer Natalie Corona, a rookie killed in the line of duty, has grown all evening. 

The loss is felt in Davis where the fatal shooting occurred, but also in Corona's hometown of Arbuckle--a town of only a few thousand people. 

That's where KTXL caught up with her father on Friday. Merced Corona, a retired sheriff's sergeant, said his 22-year-old daughter was living at home with him and her three sisters. 

"She just enjoyed her job. She would come home, she would be beaming," Merced said. 

He said his daughter should be remembered for her caring heart. 

"She would give people money, if they didn't have food," he said. He said she gave someone she arrested five dollars so they could get food when they got out. "The person even cried when she did that." 

Her family was at one of her sister's basketball games when Natalie was shot. 

"She died doing what she loved to do in the city she wanted to be in," said her father. 

Written messages and flowers are streaming in to the police department. Her friends she made while waitressing at the Colusa Casnio remember Natalie fondly. 

"She was such a beautiful person inside and out. I can't believe she's gone. It still hasn't set in yet," Yadi Flores, a friend, said. 

"She was so excited to start the police academy. She always told us how excited she was and she wanted to get out there and start doing her job. I loved her for it. She was so determined and hard working," said another friend, Isabel Espindola. 

The Davis police chief said his devastated department appreciates the outpouring of support from the community. 

"She had a personality that was just energizing," said Davis police Chief Darren Pytel.  

Even as Natalie moved up in her career, he said she treated everyone the same whether they were the janitor or the chief. 

"She was the most friendly, outgoing and wanted to be everybody' friend, and was," Pytel said. 

Growing up in Arbuckle, she'd worked as a lifeguard and referee for the local recreation department. 

Police work was her calling and Corona was the city's first hire under a recruitment program that paid her college tuition. 

"We're not angry. We're going to grieve," Merced said. 

He said his family's faith will get them through this. 

He pinned his daughter's badge on her at the academy graduation just six months ago. 

"She would lay down her life. She knew that was a possibility and I think she embraced that," her father said. 

But, her dad said, she paid the ultimate price. 

He told a story about how Natalie wanted to call him "brother cop" because they were both law enforcement, but he wouldn't let her until she got through the academy. They were both so proud when that finally happened. 

The vigil for Officer Natalie Corona is Saturday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. in downtown Davis' Central Park.