Darnell Calhoun leaves behind a pregnant wife

A second community vigil for slain Riverside County Deputy Darnell Calhoun, who grew up in Murrieta, is set for today, Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Square Park Amphitheater, 11 Town Square, in Murrieta.

The first vigil was held Tuesday, Jan. 17 outside the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s station in Lake Elsinore — where Deputy Darnell Calhoun was assigned. The location was adorned with flowers, cards and signs from well-wishers.

Calhoun, 30, was shot to death near Lake Elsinore on Friday, Jan. 13. He was the department’s second officer to die in the line of duty in 16 days. The twin tragedies were a shock to a department that had gone nearly two decades without the on-duty killing of a deputy.

Darnell Calhoun, 30, leaves behind a pregnant wife and a grieving community still reeling from the Dec. 29 killing of Deputy Isaiah Cordero during a traffic stop, Sheriff Chad Bianco said during a news conference Friday night.

“I shouldn’t be here tonight having to do this again,” Bianco said. “We are sadly in a time where there is a growing population that has absolutely zero respect for other people. They have zero respect for authority. They have zero respect for law enforcement.”

Cordero’s was the first on-duty killing of a Riverside deputy in 20 years, Bianco said.

“Nationwide, we are confronting these situations with armed individuals who, over what seem to be minor disagreements, are willing to engage law enforcement in life-and-death gun battles all too frequently.

“Unfortunately, I’m going to tell you we will get through it. We will hold our heads high. And we will come right back to work and answer another call for service that could put our lives in jeopardy again.”

Calhoun was responding to a domestic violence call related to a child custody issue when he was killed, Bianco said. Calhoun was the first deputy at the scene. A second deputy arrived and found Calhoun lying in the street suffering from gunshot injuries.

A shootout then occurred between the second deputy and the suspect. The suspect was shot and was taken to a hospital where he was in critical condition, Bianco said.

Calhoun joined the department in February 2022 after spending two years with the San Diego Police Department. He was assigned to the Lake Elsinore station, Bianco said.

“He was a husband, a son. He would’ve been a dad,” the sheriff said. “There is not one person with one negative thing to say about him. He was the most cheerful, the most positive, the most good, wholesome man you could imagine.

“He has a fantastic family. In February when he was sworn in, I hugged his mother, and I promised I would take care of him.”

The suspected killer, Jesse Navarro, 42, remains hospitalized after a gun battle with the second deputy who arrived at a home in the Lakeland Village area.

In a statement the Sheriff’s Department issued Monday, Jan. 16, the Calhoun family thanked the community for its “outpouring of love and support.”

“While we are heartbroken, we also celebrate the gift of Darnell – the husband, father, son, brother, and deputy. His life, though cut short, is a blessing. Our faith in Jesus will carry us through this and we know we will be reunited with Darnell once again.”


Image Sources

  • Sheriff Chad Bianco (left) and Deputy Darnell Calhoun: RSO