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Galt police carry on as best they can after anguishing loss of Officer Kevin Tonn

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Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 12:00 am

On Friday, a handful of Galt Police Department employees were working with Sacramento County chaplains to ensure that memorial service details for fallen Officer Kevin Tonn were coming together.

Others were answering phone calls and emails from local residents and across the country offering heartfelt condolences, or patrolling the city streets like any other work day.

Still others chose to be off-duty, spending time with their own families as far away from the police station as possible.

"You've got people with different personalities," Galt Police Chief William Bowen said Friday. "Some people really want to stay busy; others would rather take time off so they've got more time to process."

Tonn, 35, was killed in the line of duty Tuesday. While investigating a burglary call, he approached a man later identified as Humphrey Gascon II, who police say fired one round at Tonn before taking his own life.

Closer bonds

Tonn had been on the Galt force for 3 1/2 years and was currently working in the two-person K-9 unit.

The police department is small, with a mere 29 sworn officers. They were emotionally rocked less than two months ago when Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation Officer Roy Marcum was fatally shot while retrieving pets from a residence close to the site of Tuesday's shooting.

And while he hasn't heard any officers talk about the emotional shock of two deaths in such a short time, Galt Police Lt. Jim Uptegrove said they must be on the minds of most.

Bowen said the department is emotionally depleted and running on empty given the closeness between employees.

"It's like losing a member of your family," he said of Tonn. "It's like the military. You go into situations where you have to put your trust in others. You end up with these closer bonds."

Tonn shared one of those bonds with Placer County Sheriff's Deputy and fellow K-9 handler Shawn Rosner, with whom he worked closely on the Foothills K-9 Association, a nonprofit organization that raises money for police dogs. Tonn had just been elected director-at-large and attended his first meeting Monday in that capacity.

On Friday, Rosner said the reality of Tonn's death had yet to sink in.

"I'm really angry," he said. "I'm still having a hard time. I still haven't accepted it."

The duo often roomed together at out-of-town canine classes, and Tonn always made Rosner laugh.

"He didn't just say funny things; he did them, too. It was just the sound of his voice," he said.

Rosner remembers how Tonn used to say everything — from Rosner's wife's food to T-shirts and mugs Tonn had printed for fundraising — was "the best I've ever had" or "amazing."

The two also worked together on Red Ribbon Week events where their dogs were the main attraction, and set up booths at events — such as the Placer County Fair, in Roseville last June, where Tonn sat for three days educating the public about police dogs.

"He would come (to Loomis) to help me with events, and I'd go down there to help him," Rosner said, adding that the two also manned a booth at last year's Galt Strawberry Festival.

On Friday, Rosner cherished Tonn's name in his iPhone's recent call list; they had talked a couple of times Monday. On that day, Rosner had finally shipped to Tonn a pile of magazines that he had purchased at the Los Angeles County Fire Museum last year.

"Now I wonder if he ever had a chance to sit down and look at them," Rosner said. "I don't know why this happened. I want to know, but I'm not sure I ever will."

Thousands expected at service

On Monday, Rosner and an estimated 100 other K-9 teams will attend Tonn's service — the first time in his 15 years of service that Rosner has been to the funeral of someone he knew so personally.

Bowen, who will speak at the service, lost a fellow officer to a traffic accident when he worked in Sparks, Nev. He also attended services of officers from other nearby agencies killed in similar violent confrontations.

"It doesn't make it easier," he said. "Every one is different."

Counseling has been made available to all department employees as they juggle making plans to attend the service, such as contacting area police honor guards, while continuing to provide safety for Galt citizens, Bowen said.

Tonn's memorial service will be at Roseville's Adventure Christian Church, where other fallen officer funerals have been held due to the number of people it can accommodate. Law enforcement officials are expecting 4,000, and have cautioned that traffic in the area will be congested.

In Galt, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department will handle all dispatch and patrol calls from midnight through 7 a.m. Monday; then the Citrus Heights Police Department will take over until 5 p.m. All other city offices will be closed.

Bowen remembers when he started in Galt and asked Tonn about his career. The officer was emphatic that he wanted to work in the K-9 unit.

"He was able to get that and was proud of that fact," Bowen said. "He wasn't the kind of officer who would just sit around and wait for a call."

In 1990, the year before Tonn entered high school, his father Will attended the Sheriff's Academy. Kevin's uncle, Ed Tonn, was a special agent with the California Department of Justice. It's no secret why Tonn, 35, became interested in law enforcement, his family said Friday.

In 1991, he joined the Roseville Police Explorers and began his adventure of serving others.

At 19, Tonn enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a military policeman. Later he worked as a sales representative for two building materials companies. During that time, he met a number of people, one of whom was instrumental in Tonn becoming a firefighter in Ft. Drum, N.Y.

During his eight years in New York, he was a volunteer firefighter, rising to the rank of assistant chief.

When he moved back to California, Tonn worked briefly as a fire prevention officer in Sacramento, where he also bought and operated a letter and parcel shipping business. Due to a cooling economy and an abiding interest in law enforcement, he sold his business, attended the Sacramento Sheriff's Academy, and in 2009 became a Galt police officer. He worked alongside his cousin, Jarrett Tonn. Kevin and Jarrett Tonn's fathers are identical twins.

Kevin's dog Yaro has been staying with Jarrett since he lived there for a short stint, according to Rosner.

The dog will likely be retired, Bowen said.

Rosner saw firsthand that their officer-dog relationship was closer than most; they even slept in the same bed.

"I know he's wondering where Kevin is, when they're going to work," Rosner said.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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3 comments:

  • Ralph Gerwing posted at 12:30 pm on Sat, Jan 19, 2013.

    Ralph Gerwing Posts: 14

    My life is Public Safety, i understand the Men and Woman that serve and protect a community. I commend the Spirit of Officer Tonn, that gave up his life in dedication to service.
    i can not defend the actions of Humphrey Gascon II , yet i am sure, there are people that can say words of his Goodness also. What cause and effect put him into the life he lead, " i do not know " few know, perhaps poverty, perhaps being a social outcast, No one should be a social outcast in a small community.
    Men, talk about this, , talk to young men and boys about this. All of you in the community of Galt are held responsible to one another for life and safety.

     
  • Ralph Gerwing posted at 12:22 pm on Sat, Jan 19, 2013.

    Ralph Gerwing Posts: 14

    When a happening like this occurs in a small community, there is a very reactive outpouring of feelings. One of my online acquaintances " youngest sister Tania " in Galt, has chosen to wear a visual sign, like Ash Wednesday, two quarter inch black bands across her forehead. i said in a fb comment, that she is imaginative. Yet she is wearing feelings on her upper face for all to see. very appropriate imo. It is her way of grieving ,

    Galt's Kevin Tonn was the visual side of Law enforcement, and Humphrey Gascon II was a resident. Then came conflict and contention . This interaction went very bad. In cause and effect, two souls were lost just a few hundred feet from the Galt Grave yard. that is what Tania is grieving.

    Our personal Life and Safety is a community affair. We all are held responsible to one another " Gang member or Not "

    My life is Public Safety, i understand the Men and Woman that serve and protect a community. I commend the Spirit of Officer Tonn, that gave up his life in dedication to service.

    i can not defend the actions of Humphrey Gascon II , yet i am sure, there are people that can say words of his Goodness also. What cause and effect put him into the life he lead, " i do not know " few know, perhaps poverty, perhaps being a social outcast, No one should be a social outcast in a small community.

    Men, talk about this, , talk to young men and boys about this. All of you in the community of Galt are held responsible to one another for life and safety.

     
  • keith mead posted at 9:08 am on Sat, Jan 19, 2013.

    keith mead Posts: 5

    This story is so sad on two fronts. A fallen hero who dedicated his life to protecting others, and the sadness his partner must have not realizing where his buddy is. While in high school I had the good fortune of being a Police Cadet in Stockton. I choose to help the K-9 officers as often as I could and gained a huge respect for the bond they have with their friend and partner. Officer Tonn will be missed by all of us, and most of all by his friend and Partner Yaro.

     

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