SACRAMENTO -- There was heartbreak a day after a beloved Sacramento police officer and Sacramento State graduate was killed in the line of duty.
“She was like family,” said Dr. Melissa Repa, who was one of Officer Tara O'Sullivan's former professors. “The Hornet family is so important and I’m honored to have known her. And I know that her legacy will live on in this community and at Sacramento State."
Twenty-six-year-old Officer O'Sullivan was shot and killed Wednesday after she responded to help a woman who was reportedly a victim of domestic violence.
“When it's time for business and it's time to get down, she's in the front of the pack. So, she leads the way," said Sacramento State Community Service Officer Ricky Williams.
It was exactly what she did on Wednesday’s call for service while in the last phase of her field training. The young officer took the lead with her training officer not far behind.
Although O'Sullivan majored in child development at Sacramento State, she followed a calling to police work. She was in the first class to graduate from the Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ Program, also known as LECS.
"She had a big heart, a strong mind, a great personality,” said Sacramento State President Robert Nelson. “She made you smile. She had exactly what we need in the police force."
“She has that command presence and I wouldn't mess with her, and I'm (6-foot-3) and much heavier than she is,” Williams said.
O'Sullivan served as a commander in the LECS program and those who worked side-by-side with her said they learned a lot.
“She just made that really big impact on us and showed us what a great leader is and we only can try to follow in her footsteps,” Williams said.
After graduating from Sacramento State in May 2018, O'Sullivan entered the police academy and graduated last December.
“I just always looked up to her for guidance,” said Sacramento State Community Service Officer Casey Claudius. “She's definitely a role model and will always be a hero in my heart.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement on Officer O'Sullivan's death in the line of duty Thursday:
Officer O’Sullivan represented the best of what we hope to be as human beings in her selfless service to the community and readiness to help those in need,” said Governor Newsom. “She knew the dangers of the job, yet chose to dedicate herself at such a young age to those values anyway. Today, Jennifer and I join the Sacramento community and all Californians in expressing our deep condolences, and stand in solidarity with Officer O’Sullivan’s family, fellow officers and those she served so honorably.