Lake Elsinore deputy shot dead: Jesse Navarro identified as suspect in killing of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun

LAKE ELSINORE, CA. (KABC) — The suspect in the fatal shooting of a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy near Lake Elsinore was identified Saturday as tributes continued to pour in for the slain law enforcement officer.

Deputy Darnell Calhoun, 30, who joined the department less than a year ago, was shot Friday while responding to a domestic violence and child custody call in Lakeland Village and later died at a hospital.

The suspect, 42-year-old Lake Elsinore resident Jesse Navarro, was shot by another responding deputy and hospitalized in critical condition, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Chad Bianco announced Calhoun’s death Friday night during a press conference outside Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.

“I shouldn’t be here tonight and have to do this again,” Bianco said. “I am devastated to report the loss of another one of our deputy sheriffs who was killed in the line of duty today.”

Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement Saturday morning:

“Jennifer and I are heartbroken at the loss of Deputy Calhoun, a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone he served with at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department who are grieving the painful loss of another deputy weeks ago. Deputy Calhoun died a hero and his courage and selfless service will always be remembered.”

The incident began shortly before 4:30 p.m. Friday when a dispatcher took a call and “in the background she heard voices and it sounded like a confrontation was going on,” Bianco said.

Deputies were dispatched to the 18500 block of Hilldale Lane, in the unincorporated community of Lakeland Village, which borders the city of Lake Elsinore. Calhoun was the first responder on the scene, but “we’re not sure about the initial contact,” the sheriff said.

The second deputy who arrived on the scene found Calhoun injured in the street, according to Bianco. “A shootout ensued with the suspect being shot. The suspect was treated at the scene and transported to a hospital.”

“He’s a husband, a son,” Bianco said of Calhoun, adding that the slain lawmaker’s widow is pregnant.

He said no one has ever had anything negative to say about Calhoun, who joined the sheriff’s department in February 2022 after spending two years with the San Diego Police Department.

“He was always so positive,” Bianco said, adding that Calhoun had a “fantastic family.”

“I remember when he was sworn in,” Bianco said, briefly overcome with emotion. “I hugged his mother and told her I would take care of him.

Late Friday, a procession of law enforcement officers escorted Calhoun’s body from Inland Valley Medical Center to the medical examiner’s office in Perris.

On Saturday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta also offered his condolences.

“Deputy Darnell Calhoun represented the best of the California spirit — protecting and serving the public with valor,” Bonta said Saturday. “On behalf of the nearly 6,000 men and women of the California Department of Justice, I extend our deepest condolences to Deputy Calhoun*’s family, colleagues, and the entire community of Riverside. His service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Memorial services are forthcoming.

In late December, another Riverside County lawmaker, Isaiah Cordero, was shot and killed when meeting a criminal who had an extensive criminal record. The gunman in that incident was shot and killed by deputies after a chase.

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