Danny Oliver was 47 years old, a guy from the north area, a “Pacer 4 Life” who met the love of his life across the river on the Franklin Boulevard cruise. He was “Big O” and “Teddy Bear.”
He was also, in the words of childhood friend and Sacramento County Undersheriff James Lewis, the type of cop he was because of the Del Paso Heights neighborhood where he grew up.
On Monday, thousands filled Roseville’s Adventure Christian Church to say goodbye to the Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy killed in a two-county rampage last month that also claimed the life of a Placer County sheriff’s detective. So large was the crowd that converged on the hilltop church that a second hall was needed to accommodate the overflow.
That room filled in minutes.
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“We serve together. We grieve together. We will heal together,” said Sacramento County sheriff’s Capt. Dave Torgerson.
Oliver was remembered Monday as a leader who cared deeply for the communities he served as a Problem Oriented Policing deputy; a devoted husband and father whose life was a picture-book love story; the son of a firefighter who passed up sergeant’s stripes to keep working in the neighborhoods he loved.
“He got what it meant to enhance quality of life. Danny got that,” said sheriff’s Capt. Matt Morgan, a division commander. “He made his community better. He made his community feel safe.”
It was in that community-focused role that Oliver, a 15-year department veteran, died Oct. 24 in a Motel 6 parking lot off Arden Way in Sacramento. Authorities say he approached Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamontes and Janelle Marquez Monroy in their car when Monroy-Bracamontes shot and killed Oliver.
Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr. was killed later in the rampage that drew hundreds of law enforcement officers in pursuit before Monroy-Bracamontes surrendered after a tense standoff in an Auburn neighborhood. Monroy-Bracamontes used the name Marcelo Marquez when he was arrested and has used several other aliases.
Davis’ memorial service is Tuesday at the same Roseville church.
At the foot of the sanctuary’s stage stood Oliver’s casket, draped in the American flag.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones spoke emotionally to Oliver’s wife, Susan, and Oliver’s surviving family of the journey that lies ahead and the vow that Jones was unable to keep: to return his deputies home safely each night.
“What words could I possibly say that would provide comfort? The answer, I realized, is nothing. There are no words to end the suffering of Danny’s family and friends. Nothing. I can’t fathom the loss, the grief you’re feeling, or the journey that lies ahead of you,” Jones said.
Then, to his fallen deputy, gratitude and a new promise: “To Danny, thank you. Please know we will be there for your family, just like you’ve been there for everybody else’s.”
By the hundreds, they were. Peace officers from across California and Nevada filled the hall, standing silently at attention as the sound of Sacramento Fire Department bagpipers and drummers slowly swelled, then filled the sanctuary.
“When we lose one, we all feel it,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Scroggin said after the memorial. “We support the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and we want to let them know that their loss is our loss as well.”
But they were also civilians, residents who came to pay their respects and say thank you to a man they didn’t know.
Dan Brill, a retired California Highway Patrol officer, and his wife, Gloria, walked to the church from their nearby home to attend the memorial.
“We’ve lived in the area for a long time, and we wanted to show our support,” Brill said as the couple waited in line before the ceremony. “It’s a hard thing when you see something like this, but it’s always a good feeling to see the support.”
“They put their lives on the line to keep us safe. In times like this, we see their humanity,” said the Rev. Anthony Sadler of Sacramento’s Shiloh Baptist Church. “We laugh, we cry, we grieve and we rejoice together.”
The memorial came to a close and peace officers began to file out of the church under a cloudless sky, the American flag held aloft by a pair of ladder trucks. Row by row for nearly an hour, their ranks grew until they became a sea of blue, black and brown, olive drab, khaki and gray.
All stood at attention in silent tribute to one of their own as the motorcade rumbled to a start.
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.