ROSEVILLE -- Thousands of loved ones and colleagues filled Bayside Community Church in Roseville to honor fallen Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan was fatally shot last week as she helped an alleged victim of domestic violence gather belongings from a north Sacramento home.
“She wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a young girl,” Gary Rousch, O’Sullivan’s godfather, said.
O’Sullivan was remembered as brave, beautiful, and ready and willing to help anyone in need.
“We celebrate her and most importantly, we recognize the ultimate sacrifice she paid and the sacrifice her family has paid,” Sacramento Police Captain Dennis Joy said.
Described as a shining light within the Sacramento Police Department by colleagues, O’Sullivan’s legacy has stretched far and wide.
“Tara made a real difference in countless lives in just a short amount of time,” Police Chief Daniel Hahn said.
Last week, O’Sullivan’s alleged killer, 45-year-old Adel Ramos, was arrested after an hourslong standoff and occasional exchanges of gunfire with officers.
“Last Wednesday, evil showed its face in our city, as it sometimes does,” Hahn said.
The community also gave Officer O’Sullivan one final salute in a public procession.
“It means a lot to support law enforcement,” said Kathy Snow.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Roseville, Sacramento and Elk Grove to wave goodbye to the slain officer.
“It’s really tragic that such a young life was taken so ... ” said Sandra Alexander. “It’s just overwhelming. We like to show our support.”
People who never met O’Sullivan stood in solidarity, holding signs and laying down flowers all in her honor. It was a way to say thank you and a promise to never forget.
'The girl before she donned her uniform'
In the words of her family, Tara “had a smile that just wouldn’t quit,” and a deep-felt love for the city of Sacramento.
“I’ll always remember the girl before she donned her uniform and began serving the people of Sacramento,” Rousch said.
Photographs of her childhood told the story of O’Sullivan.
The community knows her as a 26-year-old public servant who gave her life helping a victim of domestic violence. But behind the badge, she was a young girl who liked making silly faces, a sister who enjoyed learning over story time and a vibrant young leader determined to make a difference in the city she called home.
She spent her free time playing soccer, relaxing with her dog and catching up with the people she loved most -- her family.
“She was so great at interacting with people of all ages, all backgrounds that it was unparalleled to any explorer that we had at that time,” said Martinez Police Sgt. Fred Ferrer.
Ferrer took notice to O’Sullivan’s “quiet confidence” more than a decade ago, when the then teenager enrolled in the youth explorers police training program.
At the ceremony honoring O’Sullivan’s life, Ferrer addressed a crowd of thousands and described her as a natural-born leader who always stood out.
“I knew right then and there that she had a strength that was going to be unleashed and I didn’t want to be around it because she would challenge me,” he said.
Help those who help others
While thousands of officers showed their support for O'Sullivan, dozens of volunteers showed their support for those officers.
“Really doing something so that they can make a difference and they can give back,” End of Watch Fund volunteer Karin Bartley said.
Though the End of Watch Fund has other service projects, their focus is to provide snacks and water to officers attending funerals and memorials that are often an all-day commitment.
“Some of these officers have come from all over California. I saw a Bakersfield car. I saw some other Southern California cars. And they drive, so it’s a long day,” Bartley said.
Chrissy Franchini joined the organization a few years ago. Thursday was her fourth law enforcement funeral. She’s spent each one outside passing out things like water, crackers and nuts.
While they put on a brave face themselves, many of the volunteers have loved ones in law enforcement. Every funeral is a reminder of what’s at stake.
“It’s a huge sense of loss,” Franchini said. “This was a young, young girl who had a lot of life left in her. There’s some anger, there’s some sadness.”
End of Watch made 2,500 snack bags for Thursday, and soon realized they’d likely run out.
“It’s just not enough. Sometimes I feel like we can never do enough,” Franchini said.
Still, they feel every effort they can make is worth it.