This past week was a particularly difficult one for our office and for our brothers in law enforcement. Last Friday, San Bernardino Police Officer Gabriel Garcia was shot in the head and critically wounded by 38-year-old Alex Alvarado.
During the firefight, Officer Garcia's partner was able to return fire and shoot Alvarado, who was transported to the hospital where he later died.
Officer Garcia remains at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in a medically induced coma, and our prayers and the prayers of so many others in the community continue on in the hopes that Officer Garcia recovers from his wounds.
While this case is still ongoing, I am limited as to what I can say at this point. Also involved in the gunfight were three others who we each charged with two counts of Attempted Murder of a Police Officer and Possession of an Assault Weapon. I have been very clear throughout my time as District Attorney, and even more so just recently, with the creation of our Crimes Against Peace Officer (CAPO) Unit, about the responsibility we have to protect those who protect us.
Criminals who assault peace officers represent a threat not only to the officer, but also to the safety of the entire community, and to the foundations of our criminal justice system.
The other day at a press conference at the San Bernardino Police Department, I made a comment I would like to reiterate: If you aid and abet or conspire with another person to shoot a police officer, or any other person, you will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Even if you don’t pull the trigger.
As District Attorney I have a responsibility to ensure that we are doing everything possible to deter, prosecute, and punish those who attack, threaten, or interfere with our law enforcement officers.
In another high profile case this week, we also saw the return of Christopher Brandon Lee who was extradited from Alaska to San Bernardino County. Lee is charged with killing 19-year-old Erin Corwin, whose body was found in a mine shaft in Joshua Tree National Park.
While we are faced with terrible crimes that show absolutely no regard for the value of human life, it's difficult sometimes for all of us at the DA's office--from the Deputy DA assigned to the case to the secretaries and the victim advocates who. At the end of the day, though, I am reminded of the victims and their families. That's who we fight for, that's who we represent. We owe to them to ensure that justice is carried out.