Mourners gathering for slain officer’s service

City News Service

Grieving relatives and law enforcement colleagues were filling a Liberty Station church today to remember a San Diego police officer and decorated ex-Marine who was gunned down last weekend while patrolling an inner-city neighborhood.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Gov. Jerry Brown Among will join hundreds of officers, Marines, friends and family to pay final respects to 36-year-old Jeremy Henwood.

A ceremonial police motorcade left Qualcomm Stadium about 8:30 a.m. heading to the Rosecrans Street chapel, where the four-year SDPD officer will be memorialized.

Henwood, who served repeat deployments to combat zones, lost his life to a street shooting carried out by a suicidal, shotgun-wielding petty criminalwho ambushed his patrol car in City Heights early Saturday evening.

The gunman, 23-year-old Dejon Marquee White of San Diego, had shot another man a short time earlier outside an El Cajon fast-food restaurant, according to police. The initial victim survived despite critical head and face injuries.

About 10 minutes later, White flashed his headlights while approaching Henwood’s eastbound cruiser from behind on University Avenue, near 45th Street. The assailant then pulled up alongside the officer, fired the gun into his driver’s side window and sped off.

A woman who witnessed the shooting used Henwood’s police radio to report what had happened. Medics took the mortally wounded officer to Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he succumbed to head wounds early Sunday morning.

About a half-hour after the attack, police found White’s black Audi about a half-dozen blocks away, near the suspect’s apartment in the 4000 block of 48th Street. When confronted by officers, White allegedly grabbed hi shotgun, prompting them to open fire. He died at the scene.

White, who had a prior history of theft, reckless driving, resisting arrest and other minor crimes, had left behind a suicide note in his residence, but it made no mention of homicidal intentions and revealed no possible motive for the rampage, police said.

The slain officer, a Texas native, was a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve and had served three tours of duty in the last eight years — twice in Iraq and, most recently, once in Afghanistan. He earned numerous awards and decorations during his 15 years of military service.

Henwood is survived by his parents, Beverly and Robbie, brother, Robbie Jr., and sister, Emily, all of San Antonio, Texas.

He was the second San Diego police officer killed on the job within 10 months. In late October, Officer Chris Wilson, 50, was fatally shot during a probation raid at a Skyline-area apartment complex.

Henwood’s killing also closely followed the violent off-duty deaths of two other SDPD personnel. Veteran child-abuse Detective Donna Williams, 52, was stabbed to death at her home last month along with her teenage daughter, allegedly by the policewoman’s mentally ill 24-year-old son. He faces two counts of murder in the case.

On Aug. 1, SDPD motorcycle Officer David Hall, a 14-year department veteran, shot himself in his back yard. Hall was awaiting trial on drunken driving and hit-and-run charges he was facing in connection with an off-duty collision in Serra Mesa.

The San Diego Police Officers Association has created a trust fund for the Henwood family. Contributions can be mailed to: Officer Jeremy Henwood Family Trust, c/o San Diego Police Officers Association, 8388 Vickers St, San Diego, CA 92111. Donors are asked to write “Officer Jeremy Henwood’’ in the memo line of their checks.