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Slain California police officer remembered as hero at vigil, support urged for police department

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Officer Greggory Casillas<br />Photo courtesy Pomona Police Department 
POMONA — Hundreds gathered Sunday evening to honor Greggory Casillas, the Pomona Police officer killed in the line of duty Friday, March 9, with a candlelight vigil near the Pomona Police Department.
The vigil, organized by Pomona Pastors in Prayer, was held on the corner of Park Avenue and Mission Boulevard.
It was the second vigil in two days for Casillas, 30.
Hundreds of flowers were placed in front of the department and some residents made signs to honor the fallen officer, including 7-year-old Ruben Cardoza of Pomona, whose sign was decorated with police cars and read “R.I.P. Officer Casillas,” “You are a hero,” and “You will be missed by all.”
Casillas, of Upland, was fatally shot while attempting to make contact with a man who fled police and locked himself in his apartment, authorities said. He is survived by his wife and their two small children, his parents and two brothers.
“Officer Casillas was part of the future of the Pomona Police Department,” Police Chief Michael Olivieri said at Sunday’s vigil. “He was respectful, intelligent, he was compassionate and he surely had a bright future.”
Another officer was seriously wounded in the shooting. He was identified by authorities as Alex Nguyen during the Sunday vigil. The suspect, 39-year old Isaias De Jesus Valencia, was arrested by police after a 15-hour standoff.
Casillas’ father, also named Greggory, was emotional in addressing the vigil.
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“It’s a great loss, but I want to thank the Pomona PD for all they’ve done in training him, let it serve a purpose, let’s keep our officers safe and away from danger,” Casillas’ father said. “I hope the community will put a hand up and help them serve whenever they need to, whenever they need us, we’ve got to be there for them, not just them for us.”
Olivieri thanked the community and fellow police departments for an outpouring of support over the weekend. Olivieri said other police agencies had asked if they could help patrol the city and, when told Pomona police officers would have it covered, refused to leave.
“They invested in the health of my employees,” Olivieri said. “This is a strong organization and we will move forward. We will always and forever cherish what Officer Gregg Casillas represents.”

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