Loved Ones, Colleagues at Sac State Vigil Remember Fallen Officer as a ‘Role Model’

SACRAMENTO -- A university, police department and community were in mourning just days after a young Sacramento police officer was killed in the line of duty.

“We are in grief. It's still a long way from accepting the loss,” said Joshua Herdia.

Herdia was one of Officer Tara O’Sullivan’s closest friends. They were classmates at Sacramento State and even served in the same police department.

He and a handful of others spoke Sunday at a candlelight vigil, honoring the life and contributions the 26-year-old Sacramento police officer made to her community.

He said O’Sullivan was a friend to all and someone who brightened up any room.

“She was the light of my life and now with all the candles being lit here, hopefully she can share that with you,” he said.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg remembered shaking hands with O’Sullivan when she graduated from the police academy in 2018. He told FOX40 the entire city mourns with her family.

“It has been one of the hardest weeks that I can remember in all my years in public service,” Sacramento’s mayor said. “It just it hits so right at the core. And a young woman who was just starting out her public service career and died helping a victim of domestic violence.”

O’Sullivan earned her college degree in child development from Sacramento State in 2017. She was the first woman to graduate from the university’s Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ Program.

“She will always be known as a consummate Hornet,” said Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen. “She will always be known as a leader, as someone who stepped up and led and brought this whole program to fruition. She'll be a role model for all of us, especially for me.”

Although O’Sullivan’s life was cut tragically short, those closest to her said her legacy will live on long after her untimely death.

“She’s still doing her part,” Herdia said. “I mean, we’re all here because of her. She’ll never be forgotten.”

President Nelsen said he will be putting up a scholarship in O’Sullivan’s name. He said donations have already been pouring in.

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