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June 1, 2023

Miles of memories: Caravan honors fallen officers, including local

SANTA CRUZ—A motorcade rolled through Santa Cruz County on June 4 as part of a 22,300-mile, cross country journey to honor 338 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2020.

The Beyond the Call of Duty End of Watch Ride to Remember made a stop at the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters to honor fallen Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who was gunned down a year ago on June 6.

“It’s been amazing so far; we’ve had great turnout at one beautiful department after another,” said Jason Vallieres, who joined the group as a volunteer at its inception in his home city of Spokane, Wash. on May 28. “We’ve seen an incredible amount of support along the way: people wave and toot their horns and give us the thumbs up.”

The ride will visit 194 departments during the criss-cross route around the U.S. on a 322-day ride that consists of two vans, and six motorcycles.

One large van is emblazoned with photos of all of the fallen law officials. Upon their arrival in Santa Cruz, a group from the Sheriff’s Office took turns writing memos and signing a large banner beside the photo van.

The caravan’s arrival coincided nearly to the day that Gutzwiller was allegedly ambushed and killed by Steven Carrillo, a member of the so-called Grizzly Scouts, a Northern California-based anti-government organization that is affiliated with a nationwide militia movement who call themselves the Boogaloo Boys.

The ride will wrap up on Aug. 19.

Jagrut Shah, spokesperson and founder of the event—and a former deputy—said, “I wanted to bridge this gap that we have and bring back to the department ,and let the officers and their families know that their loss has not been forgotten.”

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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