Deputy David William March, who was shot and killed in the line of duty 17 years ago, was remembered Monday morning by scores of law enforcement officers and civilians as they observed the anniversary of his death.
March, who lived in Saugus and attended Canyon High School, was shot and killed on April 29, 2002, at about 10:40 a.m, by a man who told friends he wanted to kill a police officer during a traffic stop.
The gunman, Jorge Arroyo Garcia, now 42, carried out his threat and is serving a life sentence in prison. March was 33.
On Monday, beginning just after midnight Sunday, a “steady flow of people” in Irwindale began taking part in a 24-hour vigil in March’s honor, said March family friend and longtime Santa Clarita resident Roger Gitlin.
“I am very pleased that after all this time, there is still a remembrance and a respect for a deputy who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Gitlin said Monday.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger was one of about 30 who attended Monday’s memorial.
“Only 33 years old at the time, his passing has left lasting wounds for his loved ones, our community and those of us who remember that fateful day in 2002,” she said.
“This annual memorial gives us another opportunity to pay tribute to Deputy March and thank his family — and all of our law enforcement families — for their service and their sacrifice.”
Also among those deeply bothered by the shooting was former LAPD officer and current Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar, who helped organize Monday’s vigil, but was unable to attend due a family emergency.
“I was sick when I heard he was shot,” Kellar said Monday. “I felt terrible when I learned he died. I feel terrible today.”
“I met his parents in the mid-’80s,” Kellar said, recalling his time with March.
“He (March) was living out here,” he said. “And, I met him at a function in the mid-’90s. His parents told me how he wanted to get into law enforcement, so I told them to give me a call.”
It was Kellar’s hope, he said, that he could prepare the young March for questions he might be asked by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“I was immediately impressed by this 25-year-old man,” Kellar said. “I coached him, and he came back with 99 percent on his interview.”
On the day March was gunned down, the man who pulled the trigger had told friends that he wanted to kill a police officer during a traffic stop.
The suspect intentionally got stopped and waited for March to get in front of his patrol car so he could open fire, as the officer would have no place to take cover, according to the account described on the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department webpage honoring March.
March was shot several times in the head and chest.
The suspect, who was identified shortly after the shooting, fled to Mexico where he remained for four years.
On Feb. 23, 2006, the suspect was arrested in Mexico by U.S. Marshals and Mexican federal agents following a joint investigation. He was extradited back to California, and on March 2, 2007, he plead guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
March served with the LASD for seven years. He is survived by his wife and stepdaughter.
A memorial was built in March’s honor on Live Oak Avenue, between Peck Road and Longden Avenue, in Irwindale.
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