CHP officers killed in crash remembered

Thousands of people gathered to pay their respects to CHP Officers Juan Gonzalez and Brian Law. Both officers were killed in a car crash.
February 24, 2014 8:03:45 AM PST
Thousands attended services in Northeast Fresno on Monday for two California Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty.

A large service was held at the Save Mart center at Fresno State. Fellow officers, family, friends and community members were there to pay their last respects.

Officers Juan Gonzalez and Brian Law were killed while responding to a crash in Fresno County last week. On Monday, they were remembered for serving others. The pastor told the crowd these officers gave their lives on an impulse of love. Their memory and legacy was honored by officers from as far away as the East Coast.

Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez met several years ago as aspiring officers in the CHP Academy. On Monday morning, years after the cadets became officers, the two who became great friends and partners were laid to rest.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow told the crowd of mostly law enforcement officers, the entire community and state of California has been touched by these officers' service and sacrifice.

"It affects the fire department, the tow truck drivers, the sheriff's deputies, the police officers who responded to the scene, it affects our public safety operators and our dispatchers," said Farrow.

Officer Gonzalez's close friend spoke about their humble roots. Even though both grew up with minimal means, they wanted more. The two pledged a fraternity and made the most of the experience.

"Being involved in Nu Alpha Kappa fraternity taught us how to be professionals," said Hector Arredondo. "See, our backgrounds were a handicap. We didn't have fathers who wore ties or dress shoes to work. Instead, like many of you, we both had parents who checked the weather report daily to gauge if they needed to carry extra water in preparation for the next day's July heat."

Officer John Savage worked alongside Officer Law in Oakland. But, the best memories they made were off the clock.

"In those three-and-a-half years, our partnership grew into a friendship," said Savage. "We enjoyed lots of nights drinking Captain Morgan and playing Call of Duty with the rest of the Oakland graveyarders."

As the service ended, hundreds of officers lined the street at attention. As he has all week, Officer Law's father rode in the hearse with his son, one last time.

Tributes to the fallen CHP officers started well before the procession passed through Clovis and lasted long after it moved on. Traffic was still flowing freely as Don McGugin sat patiently on his bicycle, talking about the emotions he knew were about to be heightened.

"Grief and gratitude and thankfulness," he said.

McGugin rides the bike all over Fresno County, but Monday, he knew it would take him to Clovis. He had to be part of the crowd showing their respect for fallen CHP officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez.

"They put themselves in harm every day," McGugin said. "The only thing that keeps criminals from us is this thin blue line."

An hour after McGugin biked up, police blocked off Shaw Avenue at Villa Avenue. And then, somber and slow, motorcycles led the procession north on Villa Avenue, under a giant American flag and into Clovis Cemetery. As they neared their destination, they passed a single sign on the side of the road. The Rosales family stood next to their benediction, even after the procession reached its destination and Officer Law was laid to rest.

"There were quite a few people taking pictures of that sign," said James Rosales. "It was quite emotional seeing them take pictures of that sign."

The family watched the memorial service on abc30.com, then set up their own memorial to share their prayer with the people closest to Law and Gonzalez.

"It's really sad that it has to happen this way, but we were there for their family and their support," Rosales said.

Support from service to burial and beyond.

"Gone but not forgotten," said McGugin.

A long motorcade with dozens of law enforcement officers and family and friends then poured into the North Tulare Public Cemetery on Monday afternoon. Officers stood at attention as the casket carrying Officer Juan Gonzalez was brought to the burial site.

Bagpipes played, and there was the traditional 21-gun salute to honor the fallen officer. The graveside service with full law enforcement honors included a flyover by police, sheriff's and highway patrol helicopters.


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