Deputy Darnell Calhoun

On Friday, Jan. 13, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department lost its second deputy in 16 days when Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting in Lake Elsinore while answering a domestic violence call for service.

According the sheriff’s department, at 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 13, Calhoun responded to the 18000 block of Hilldale Lane in Lake Elsinore on a call for service of an unknown nature. (It was later determined to be a domestic violence incident over child custody.)

As Calhoun approached the residence the suspect began shooting at him and a deputy-involved shooting occurred and Calhoun was shot. When a second deputy arrived the gunfight continued and the suspect, later identified as Jesse Navarro, 42, of Lake Elsinore, was shot.

“The second deputy found our deputy wounded in the street and a gunfight between that deputy and the suspect ensued,” Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said during a press conference the night of the shooting. “The suspect was hit. He was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital. He is currently in critical condition.”

Calhoun was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

As of Saturday, Jan. 14, Navarro was still in critical condition.

The second deputy was placed on paid administrative leave (per department policy) while the incident is investigated by Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, assisted by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Force Investigations Detail.

Calhoun had been a deputy for the department, stationed in Lake Elsinore, since February 2022 when he left his job at San Diego Police Department for a shorter commute. He had worked at the San Diego department for two years.

Calhoun’s death comes about two weeks after Deputy Isaiah Cordero was shot to death during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley on Dec. 29. Prior to Cordero’s death, 2003 was the last time a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputy was murdered in the line of duty, Bianco said.

“I shouldn’t be here tonight, doing this again,” Bianco said at the press conference. “I’m devastated to tell of the loss of another one of our deputy sheriffs who was killed in the line of duty today.”

Speaking of Calhoun, Bianco said, “I, unfortunately, said this about Deputy Cordero, ‘There is not one person who can say a negative thing about him,’ and now I say it about Calhoun, there is not a negative thing to say about him. He was the most cheerful, the most positive, most wholesome man you can imagine.”

“We are grieving at this sheriff’s department, law enforcement in general is grieving. We’re now involving San Diego Police Department, who for two years worked side-by-side with him. They are going through the same thing we are going through,” Bianco said. “Unfortunately, I’m going to tell you, we will get through it and come right back to work to answer another call for service that could put our lives in jeopardy again.”

Bianco also shared that Calhoun’s old shift from San Diego came to Riverside to grieve with the sheriff’s department.

When asked to comment on the two recent deaths, Bianco said, “We are sadly in a time that has a growing population that has absolutely zero respect for other people. They have zero respect for authority. They have zero respect for law enforcement. And, nationwide, we are confronting armed individuals, over what are seemingly minor disagreements, who are willing to engage law enforcement in life-or-death gun battles all too frequently.”

“The amount of outpouring from our community, our city council, from our county officials and our residents is immense. Our deputies know it and feel it, and that makes them want to come back,” Bianco said.

On Monday, Jan. 16, the sheriff’s department released the following message on behalf of Calhoun’s family:

“Since the tragic loss of Darnell, our family has received an outpouring of love and support from our community for which we are immensely grateful. 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. His life, his commitment and dedication to his family and his community will remain an inspiration. He was genuine, kind, loyal, and had the heart of a servant. We take great comfort in knowing that Darnell led a life well lived. We are grateful to our community, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, and law enforcement agencies around the country that have uplifted us.

“While we respect and are thankful and grateful for the community, we ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Thank you for your continued love and prayers.”


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