By Ken Fields and Sara Sapeda
City News Service
Thousands of mourners, hundreds of them bedecked in dress uniforms, filled a Liberty Station church today to pay respects to a San Diego police officer and decorated ex-Marine who was gunned down last weekend while patrolling an inner-city neighborhood.
Among those saluting 36-year-old Jeremy Henwood at his late-morning memorial service were San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Henwood, a four-year SDPD officer who served repeat deployments to combat zones, lost his life to a street shooting carried out by a suicidal, shotgun-wielding petty criminal who ambushed his patrol car in City Heights early Saturday evening. Police fatally shot the suspected assailant during an armed confrontation a short time later.
Hundreds of law enforcement and firefighting vehicles with their emergency lights flashing accompanied the hearse carrying Henwood's remains in a ceremonial procession from Qualcomm Stadium to the Rosecrans Street chapel where the funeral took place.
During the 2 1/2-hour service, the Marine Corps gave Henwood a posthumous promotion from captain to major.
"Just like when he fought for our nation, being a cop gave Jeremy pride, knowing he was doing something fundamental to our quality of life in the United States,'' the mayor told the funeral gathering. "Every day, when he put on his blue San Diego (police) uniform, Jeremy knew he was a cornerstone of civil society.''
With his "admirable military service record'' and a degree in criminal justice, Henwood could have "done just about anything'' as a career upon returning from his most recent combat deployment, the mayor said.
"He could have joined a private security or a military training firm,'' Sanders said. "He could have been a civil servant with a desk job. He could have gone into any number of less dangerous law enforcement jobs. But Jeremy chose to be a beat cop. He chose a job that everybody knows means you start your shift knowing in the back of your mind it might be your last.''
Police Chief William Lansdowne said he was "honored'' to have known Henwood, whom he described as "a special person.''
"We're sorry that we lost Jeremy, but don't be sad,'' he told the mourners. "Jeremy led a full life. Jeremy was excited about what he did. Jeremy made us all special. ... And Jeremy set a standard that's raised the bar for all of us.''
Robbie Henwood of San Antonio, Texas, praised his oldest child as a
proud man and a fabulous son.'' In a tearful address to the crowd, Emily
Henwood described her older brother as
a great man and a hero to our
country,'' adding that she was
extremely proud of the legacy he will leave.''
Fellow Marine reservist Maj. Ted Bonanno said his late friend "always served something bigger than himself.''
A native of Ottawa, Canada, who grew up in Texas, he became a U.S. citizen so he could seek to qualify as a USMC officer, according to his family. He served three tours of combat duty in the past eight years — twice in Iraq and, most recently, in Afghanistan — and earned numerous awards and decorations during his 15 years of military service.