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Galt businesses honor fallen Police Officer Kevin Tonn

Tattoo artist creates banner in Tonn’s memory; companies join to raise funds for statue

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Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 12:00 am

Hanging inside a building on Industrial Drive in Galt is a unique banner.

Against a flag background is a hand-sketched picture of a regal German shepherd. He is flanked by a firefighter’s ax and ladder, military dog tags and the butt of a gun, with the Galt Police Department badge.

“It’s brought out anyone who can relate to those careers,” said Mo Sarinana of Image Tattoo Company, who helped create the memorial drawing in honor of fallen Galt Police K-9 Officer Kevin Tonn, who was killed in the line of duty in January. Tattoo apprentice Juan Zamora, also known as “Uno,” drew the design.

The banner was painted on a 40-by-50-inch banner by Galt Sign and Screenprinting, and is currently traveling throughout Galt collecting community signatures.

But it’s getting more than the attention of local residents.

Sarinana, who lives in Galt, said that thanks to the Internet, the photo of the banner posted on the company’s Facebook page has gone viral with more than 1 million views. Hundreds have “liked” it, and it has been shared on other Facebook pages 85 times.

Image Tattoo is working on an oil painting of Tonn, and several officers have stopped in to get tattoos in memory of their fallen peer.

“Coming by does something for everyone,” Sarinana said.

In addition, the tattoo company and Galt Sign and Screenprinting have joined up to create a lifelike statue of Yaro, Tonn’s K9 partner that may be erected at a dog park the city is currently designing to honor Tonn. It was purchased by Galt Sign’s Chris Newell, who originally planned to erect it at the site of Tonn’s killing as a symbolic way to show Yaro waiting for his partner.

He said he is both honored and sad about the outreach, as he knew Tonn personally.

“It’s a way I can give back, not just for his family but the community,” Newell said. “When stuff happens, especially in a small community, you know everyone.”

Julie Baldwin of Foothills K9 Association worked closely with Tonn, who had been named the organization’s chairman just before his death. She said it’s nice to know people who didn’t personally know Tonn still want to honor him.

Sarinana only met Tonn a couple of times, he said.

“But I’m a firefighter, and in public safety you’re all one big family,” he said. “(A death) hits everyone.”

Galt Sign and Screenprinting also created decals to be affixed to public safety vehicles in honor of Tonn, and are transferring the banner’s design onto T-shirts and sweatshirts for fundraising.

Baldwin said Foothills K9 Association, a Sacramento-area organization that helps raise money to purchase police dogs, has collected enough donations through events such as last month’s pizza fundraiser at Mountain Mike’s in Galt to purchase one dog for the Galt Police Department and possibly pay for its training. She traveled to Galt on Friday to sign the banner.

Tonn was in the process of raising money to replace aging Bo, the department’s sole K9 now that Yaro has been retired.

In the end, Sarinana said he is not sure where the banner will ultimately end up, but it will continue its tour of Galt for the time being.

It will be located at Image Tattoo Company, 545 Industrial Drive, Suite 103, Galt, through Sunday, before being moved to Galt Sign and Screenprinting, 521 C St., Galt. For more information, call 209-745-2181.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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