San Diego Police former officer
Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun, right. Photo credit: @RSO via Twitter

An online fundraiser for the family of a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy killed during a confrontation with a domestic violence suspect topped $150,000 Monday, with funeral arrangements for the fallen lawman still pending.

Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, was assigned to the sheriff’s Lake Elsinore station in Riverside County after he laterally transferred from the San Diego Police Department nearly one year ago.

Calhoun, who left behind a pregnant wife and two young sons, died after he was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where the suspect was also taken and remains in critical condition after he was shot by a deputy backing up Calhoun.

A “Help A Hero” fundraiser was immediately established for the slain lawman. As of early Monday afternoon, $166,488 in donations had been made on behalf of Calhoun’s family. The fundraiser link is https://helpahero.com/campaign/deputy-darnell-calhoun.

Officials at sheriff’s headquarters in Riverside have yet to announce when funeral services will go forward.

According to Sheriff Chad Bianco, Calhoun was fatally shot about 4:20 p.m. Friday in the 18000 block of Hilldale Lane, near Grand Avenue, when he approached a residence from which a 911 call had been placed indicating there was a domestic disturbance.

Bianco said that Calhoun was hit when 42-year-old Jesse Navarro of Lake Elsinore allegedly opened fire from the residence.

“The second deputy on the scene found Deputy Calhoun wounded in the street,” Bianco said Friday. “A gunfight ensued with the suspect, who was shot. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital.”

Background information on the alleged gunman was unavailable.

A candlelight vigil for the fallen lawman — the second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy killed in a confrontation in less than three weeks — is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the sheriff’s Lake Elsinore station, 333 W. Limited Ave.

“He was a husband, a father of two young boys — ages 2 and 4 — and a third baby boy on the way,” according to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation, which initiated the online fundraiser. “Darnell loved and served Jesus with his church community joyfully. He will be remembered as a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a son-in-law, a brother-in-law and a loyal friend.”

Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson praised Calhoun for making “the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting our community.”

The Riverside Sheriffs’ Association described Calhoun’s death as the loss of “another hero way too early in life.”

“Our heart aches for the family, friends and fellow deputies of Darnell Calhoun, and we ask everyone to take a moment to remember his selfless service,” said the RSA, which represents the nearly 4,000 line deputies countywide.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said “Calhoun represented the best of the California spirit — protecting and serving the public with valor.”

Law enforcement agencies from throughout Southern California also offered condolences.

“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Deputy Darnell Calhoun, an SDPD officer until 2022,” the San Diego Police Department said via Twitter Friday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues in SDPD and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.”

The California Highway Patrol posted a message saying, “We are forever grateful for the sacrifices made by our officers to keep our communities safe.”

Bianco recalled Friday the occasion in February 2022 when Calhoun was sworn in.

“I hugged his mother and told her I would take care of him,” the sheriff said. “We are sadly in a time when some people have no respect for other people and no respect for law enforcement. Those people are willing to engage in gunfights with law enforcement over minor things.”

The backup deputy who shot Navarro has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the sheriff’s Force Investigations Detail.

The deputy’s name has not been released.

City News Services contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock