SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California sheriff's sergeant who was shot and killed last week after an attempted traffic stop was memorialized Friday as an inspiring leader and a role model for his grieving family.
Relatives, law enforcement personnel and members of the public attended the service for San Bernardino County sheriff’s Sergeant Dominic Vaca.
The deputy had “a heart of gold," Sheriff John McMahon said.
Vaca, 43, was killed on Memorial Day after a motorcyclist, Bilal Winston Shabazz, opened fire on him near Yucca Valley, authorities said. Shabazz, 29, was fatally shot by deputies after exchanging gunfire.
Vaca is survived by a 4-month-old girl and an 11-year-old daughter, who spoke at his service.
“He protected people he didn’t even know, just like he protected me, my baby sister, my mom and all our family,” she said. “He taught me to be brave, kind and always take care of my family."
Vaca, an Army veteran, was eulogized as a hard worker who earned his colleagues’ trust.
“He did everything he could to build up everyone around him,” said Capt. Luke Niles, who worked with Vaca at the Morongo Basin sheriff's station. “Dom pushed you as hard as he pushed himself. If you fell behind, Dom would carry you over that finish line.”
Earlier Friday, a long procession of vehicles with law enforcement personnel from across the region accompanied Vaca’s body from the county coroner’s office to Glen Helen Amphitheater for the memorial service.
Along the route, firefighters stood atop their engines, saluting Vaca as the cavalcade passed by.