When police officers are shot like they were in Roseville Friday, the echoes of gunfire don’t just resound down the streets where the fugitive may be hiding, but also throughout the police community, their families and those who appreciate the work they do.
“We’re trained to expect the unexpected. It could be something as simple as in Roseville: they see a subject they believe is wanted, and upon contact mayhem breaks out,” said Homicide Detective Sgt. Jim Barnes.
And on today, of all days, Barnes is mindful if what that mayhem can mean.
In the far southeastern reaches of Sacramento County there is a roadside memorial for Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Mitchell.
It is Sunday, Oct. 27. Exactly seven years ago, Mitchell was gunned down on that lonely country road.
The person who killed him has never been caught. After 5,000 leads, the case has gone cold.
Mitchell left a widow, and son who’s now 13-years-old with no answers.
“When I hear the door open at 7:30 or 8 in the morning, I still think it’s going to be Jeff,” Crystal Mitchell told us in November, all those years ago.
But police officers aren’t giving up. Technology has multiplied the amount of evidence you can find on a Q-tip. And Sheriff’s investigators have a whole van’s worth – a white van thought to be connected with Deputy Mitchell’s murder.
Right now, evidence from the van is being retested with that new technology. Even as investigators are keeping an eye on their fellow officers in Roseville, recovering from gunshot wounds of their own.
“Although we signed up to do this job, we’re still human, we have families, and to know that Jeff’s family has no resolution – that’s what inspires us,” Barnes said.
Investigators know someone out there still holds the key to solving Mitchell’s murder. Even as they reevaluate evidence with new technology, they are hoping a new tip could come to light, to help then solve the case.