Davis Police Chief Says Fallen Officer was Dedicated and Humble

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DAVIS — The scene of a Thursday car crash quickly became the scene of a deadly ambush.

One day after Davis Officer Natalie Corona was shot to death while trying to sort out how three cars collided, Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel revealed a man not involved in the accident rode up on a bike, out of the shadows and took aim at Corona with a semi-automatic pistol.

“The suspect basically just opened up fire, shot her once. She went down to the ground and then he ended up shooting her multiple times,” Pytel said.

The 22-year-old rookie, who had been out in the field on her own for just a few weeks, was wearing a bulletproof vest but was struck at least once in the neck.

“He expended all the rounds in the magazine, reloaded and then started shooting in another direction,” Pytel said.

Lea Serrar, a University of California, Davis student, was still in shock about the incident.

“I’m 20, she’s 22, that’s our age. That’s crazy to think about,” Serrar told FOX40.

Many who live near the shooting scene on 5th Street between C and D streets were shocked. That location also puts them close to the 5th and E streets home where police now say the gunman walked to after targeting Officer Corona and firing at firefighters who responded to the crash.

He dropped a backpack along the way, which helped investigators track down his location.

After his roommate was evacuated, a dangerous dance began with officers surrounding the house for hours. The suspect came out twice.

“He shouted some stuff, went back in, ended up coming out again wearing a vest and had a firearm,” Pytel said.

After finally pushing a couch up against the front door, the gunman, whose identity is still being withheld, shot himself in the head, according to Pytel.

While police could not confirm any criminal past or mental illness with Corona’s suspected killer, neighbors say they’ve seen strange behavior.

“We always knew that house looked a little … it was never put together. So it didn’t strike us as off that someone may have committed this act could live there,” stated neighbor Soha Said.

The community is joining a devastated department in its grief. Those who trained Corona were stunned at what they and the public have lost.

“The utmost selflessness and humility and dedication, that was Natalie Corona,” expressed Pytel.

Chief Pytel closed down his department Friday to meet with the entire force to help them stay on their mission while mourning.

“We talked a lot about being there for each other,” he said. “We want to honor and respect Officer Corona to the best that we can.”

FOX40 has learned that Corona did have a body camera on when she was shot but it’s not yet known if it was recording. The start of the incident that took her life was a no-injury car crash, which is not the kind of thing that would normally trigger use of the body camera.

Her in-car camera did record a lot of video but Pytel hasn’t revealed what was seen.

Since she died, a police department honor guard has been with Corona at the coroner’s office. They will remain with her until she is buried. Services have not yet been scheduled.

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