Vigil Held for Sacramento Deputy Killed in Ramada Inn Shooting

EL DORADO HILLS -- A community drawing together at the rocks in El Dorado Hills, a landmark not painted Friday for a birthday but instead in solemn remembrance of a loved one lost.

"Had the opportunity, unfortunately, to investigate what happened to Bobby and I can tell you that he died a hero," said Detective Chris Britton with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, as he shared with an applauding crowd.

They were all applauding the last actions of their El Dorado Hills neighbor and Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Robert French.

"He loved his job so much," said his live-in girlfriend Kara Merino.

French was a well-respected, 21-year veteran of the force who was killed Wednesday when he came to back up members of a regional auto theft task force as they served a warrant at Ramada Inn in Sacramento.

Thomas Little Cloud of Castro Valley now stands accused of firing fatal shots at French with an assault rifle from a second-floor balcony.

That after wounding two CHP officers through the door of his hotel room.

Amid all the emotion, heartbroken fellow deputies who've had to investigate what happened to their friend explained the character French displayed even after being shot.

"He put his rifle in the rack just like anyone would and I gotta tell you if it weren't for Bobby there'd be some other officers down," Britton said.

"The ups and the downs, he went out there and gave it 100 percent every single day," shared Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective Duke Lewis.

For those close to the man who went by Robert to the public, Bobby to his family and Bobby Lite to his best friends, the neighborhood salute gave them a chance to celebrate the love the 52-year-old so easily shared with his girlfriend.

"When she got out of the car, when Kara got out of the car at the hospital, she fell into my arms sobbing and the one thing I said to her was, 'The one thing I love most about Bobby was how much he loved you, how much he loved you,'" said Barby Brilliant, mother of French's girlfriend. "What mom wouldn't want that for their daughter?"

Since they can no longer tell him how much they appreciate him in person, French's loved ones say they'll keep finding ways to pay tribute to all that he was, giving ultimate honor to the one who gave the ultimate sacrifice.