DAVIS (KPIX 5) – Family members and friends were in mourning Friday as they tried to make sense of the fatal shooting that took the life of rookie Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona during what started as a routine car accident investigation.
Davis Police Department officials said the 22-year-old officer was shot after responding to a traffic accident about 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Police said the shooting happened in the area of Fifth and “C” streets near downtown.
Police said it did not appear that the shooter was a driver or passenger in any of the three vehicles involved in the collision.
The suspect, who has not been identified, was later found dead inside a Davis home about a block away from the crash with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Natalie Corona’s father Merced Corona spoke to media for the first time since the death of his daughter Friday afternoon, talking to a reporter at his home in the small Colusa County town of Arbuckle. He said that he had concerns about her decision to become a police officer.
“When I worked in law enforcement, I didn’t so much fear for my own safety. You’re out there doing the work and you think you can handle any situation,” explained Corona. “But when it came to Natalie, I worried about her. I worried about her getting hurt and being out there in the streets.”
Part of his concern stemmed from the fact that police work has become more dangerous than when he worked in the field, even in a smaller community like Davis.
“Times have changed. It’s gotten more violent,” said Corona. “As a father, you worry about your kids, and I worried about her.”
Still, Corona said he was proud that Natalie followed in his footsteps by going into law enforcement to serve the community.
“I was extremely proud. It was one of those moments in your life when you just couldn’t be more proud of your daughter,” said Corona. “You see the accomplishment in what she’d done, graduating from the academy and pursuing what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.”
Devastated friends also remembered Natalie as a woman who wanted to serve her community.
“I heard that there was an active shooter in Davis and I texted her, but it was probably too late,” said friend Isabel Espindola. “I was in denial. I didnt want to believe it.”
Espindola met Corona while they were working at the Colusa Casino and remained friends when Corona went to the police academy.
“She couldn’t wait to go to the academy, to get into the patrol car by herself,” remembered Espindola.
The fatal shooting by the suspect who would apparently kill himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound has left both Corona’s friends and the small town she protected reeling.
“Its just really sad to hear that our little town, that something like this could happen. So it meant a lot just to be able to do something,” said one Davis resident who had gone to the police department to pay her respects.
As a show of support, there is a growing memorial outside police headquarters with flowers and notes of condolences.
“The city of Davis police protect us, and they don’t get enough respect. So I felt like I should do something. Anything,” said Davis resident Tracey Winton.
But despite the terrible tragedy he is facing with his family over the loss, Merced Corona somehow remained positive.
“We’re gonna get past this. It’s gonna be difficult. We’re gonna have our grieving time, but we’ll get past it,” said Corona.
He acknowledged that the family would not be going through their grief alone.
“The Davis Police Department has been extremely supportive. The small community that we are here in Arbuckle, we know everybody and they know us. The outpouring from the community…we’ve got a large family,” explained Corona. “Most of these people are friends, and they just want to support us.”