Remembering two officers in the deadly shootout in Minkler

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of a deadly shootout in Minkler that killed two local law enforcement officers. Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley Police Officer Javier Bejar died in the shootout.

With an American flag in hand, Reedley Police Department's Honor Guard paid tribute to the fallen former officer Javier Bejar, who died five years ago in the line of duty. His widow, still overcome with emotion.

Mirian Bejar said, "This is, as hard and as bittersweet as this day may be, it's an honor to here in remembrance of my husband. He passed away doing what he loved to do."

In 2010, Bejar and Fresno County Sheriff's Detective Joel Wahlenmaier were killed during a standoff in Minkler, while authorities served a search warrant. His fellow deputies were at the ceremony to remember Wahlenmaier.

Jose Salinas with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department said, "We know he was doing the job that he loved. He did exactly what he was trained to do. Unfortunately, he lost his life that day. So it brings back memories of that day. No one is ever going to forget about that."

At the ceremony, the honor guard lowered the flags to pay their respects to the men. Chief Joe Garza says he still feels the void in his department.

Chief Joe Garza with the Reedley Police Department said, "But time changes nothing. We still miss the moments of his life, the sounds of his voice."

For the Bejar family, they say they are touched that year after year, the community continues to gather to remember Javier's life.

Bejar's sister, Maricela Chavez, said, "For all of you that knew him. It was a great loss. Even though it's been five years it's still difficult and we still question. We still wonder why. And in these five years, I haven't found an answer and I don't think any of us have really found an answer."

And at last, a farewell salute to these brave men.

Although it's a bittersweet day, friends and family say it's an important one to remember these men and their legacy of service and sacrifice.

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