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Orangevale Neighborhood Honors Fallen Deputy Robert French

ORANGEVALE -- Scouting, snipping and tying blue ribbons into bows -- it's part of the grieving process for an Orangevale neighborhood who is heartbroken over the death of Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Robert French.

"Quite a few people in the area all came together and said 'What can we do?' And I said 'This! This is what we can do,'" said Julie Putnam, who comes from a law enforcement family.

"Cover Orangevale as best we can to show our support and love," said Helen Johnson, who was a friend of Deputy French.

For Johnson, his loss is quite personal. Deputy French was in her wedding. Their families have been friends for the 14 years since.

"He was funny, and when it came to his job, he did it well, and when it came to being a friend he did that very well too," Johnson said.

The 21-year veteran of the force was killed during a shootout with a car theft suspect. He was providing backup for officers serving a search warrant last Wednesday at the Ramada Inn in Sacramento.

"Even though he was mortally wounded, he continued to pin down the suspect," Sheriff Scott Jones said.

Jones detailed the crime on Tuesday. He said French was using his car as a shield and also wearing a bullet proof vest. Jones said the suspect, Thomas Little Cloud, shot French in the shoulder, and the bullet became lodged in his heart.

"The way we say goodbye every day, if we go off of that, we feel like something's gonna happen," Putnam said.

Putnam's husband is also an officer.

Their son, Matthew, might be too young to understand the significance of tying these blue ribbons to trees near Trajan Elementary School. But he knows that his dad wears a badge too, and that he loves him very much.

"I hope they know that we care. It hurts. It doesn't just hurt one person, it hurts all of us, and we want to make sure they know we're here." Putnam said.