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12-18-07, 05:26 PM #1
California Detective Fatally Shot
Courtesy of The Visalia Times-Delta
Courtesy of The Visalia Times-Delta via Tulare County Sheriff's Office
Detective Kent Haws
Courtesy of The Visalia Times-Delta/Teresa Douglass
Law enforcement personnel investigate the scene where an officer was fatally shot Dec. 17.
IVANHOE, Calif.-- Authorities have arrested an Ivanhoe man in the fatal shooting of Tulare County sheriff's detective Kent Haws. Jorge Gomez Banda, 20, was arrested and booked at the Tulare County Sheriffs Main Jail Facility on suspicion of homicide.
But exactly what led to the shooting that killed Haws, 38, a married father of three young children, Sheriff Bill Wittman wouldn't disclose hours after the shooting that occurred north of Ivanhoe on Road 156 about a quarter mile north of Avenue 344. "It's obviously a very sad day here at the Sheriff's Department," Wittman said at a press conference at the department's headquarters in Visalia.
"It appears there was some kind of suspicious person Detective Haws was checking out" about 1:30 p.m., he said. "[Haws] was in the area checking out a vehicle when he was apparently approached by an individual."
The vehicle was on the west shoulder of Road 156, bordered on both sides of the road by orange groves.
Wittman would not disclose details of the shooting, but did say that soon afterward, some passersby called sheriff's dispatchers to report that an officer was down.
Haws was taken by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia where he died at 3:20 p.m., authorities said.
He was the 11th Tulare County Sheriff's deputy to die in the line of duty and the first in more than 56 years to be shot to death.
Seven died from being hit by cars or in traffic crashes, including the last one killed in the line of duty, Deputy Kevin Elium, who died in October 2005 after he lost control of the patrol car he was driving near Porterville.
Deputy Carlo Johnson was the last deputy to die as a result of gunfire. He was shot during a gunfight with a car thief in July 1951 and died two months later. As for Monday's shooting, sheriff's officials indicated more than one shot was fired, but they wouldn't say if Haws -- who would have marked his tenth year with the Sheriff's Department next month -- fired his gun at all.
Sgt. Chris Douglass said some sheriff's cars were in the area and responded, as did officers from the California Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies.
She said the suspect in the case was found north of the shooting scene, but it was not clear if he was on foot or in a vehicle.
As the call went out of an officer down, numerous emergency vehicles in the area and from surrounding communities converged on the scene. At one point, about 40 cars -- mostly law enforcement officers -- were there.
A helicopter from the Fresno County Sheriff's Department also circled the groves. Douglass said that as a precaution, the flight crew was looking in case there might be other suspects or any vehicles related to the case hidden amid the rows of trees.
Initially, Douglass referred to the suspect in the killing as a "person of interest" being detained and questioned, but by late afternoon, Wittman vehemently told reporters, "He's not a person of interest. He is a suspect."
And even though he was arrested, Lt. Keith Douglass -- no relation to Chris Douglass -- said the suspect's name and age, as well as whether he is a minor or adult, would not be disclosed until he was booked into jail.
He added that he didn't know when that would happen.
Chris Douglass said several of Haws' fellow deputies were at Kaweah Delta, as were members of his family. She said Wittman went there and spoke with Haws' family.
Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida, who attended Wittman's press conference with fellow Supervisor Steve Worthley, said he had met Haws.
And while they were not close, "Actually, I feel like I lost a member of my personal family," Ishida said.
"There aren't enough words to express the loss we all feel and the compassion for his family," he said.
Though a detective, Haws was a member of the Sheriff's Tactical Enforcement Personnel team, the equivalent of a police department SWAT team, but he was on routine patrol duty in uniform and in a marked patrol car Monday afternoon.
Exactly what prompted him to stop and check out the car on Road 156 sheriff's officials wouldn't say, but part of the investigation involved looking at tracks in the muddy ground at the edge of an orange grove near the shooting scene.
After Haws died, some sheriff's chaplains arrived at the shooting scene to speak with deputies who may have been upset and shaken by the death.
Chris Douglass clearly was shaken, her voice cracking slightly, when she announced to reporters the Haws had died.
"It's a very tough day. He was a very strong officer well-liked in our department," said Douglass, who went through police academy training with Haws at the College of the Sequoias in 1997.
Haws also was no stranger to dangerous situations on the job.
In February 2000, he was hospitalized after he lost control of his patrol car and it rolled over on his way to an emergency call in Strathmore to help a deputy in trouble.
In September 2002, he was jabbed in the finger with a syringe while arresting a man reportedly under the influence of drugs in Strathmore. Haws was taken to Sierra View District Hospital as a precaution in case he contracted any blood-transferred diseases from the syringe.
A man in a car reportedly tried to run over Haws in November 2003. Haws, who was not hit, shot the driver, who survived and later was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Sheriff's officials said no decision had been made on when a funeral would be held for Haws. Wittman said flags at county buildings would be flown at half-staff until the service.
Republished with permission of The Visalia Times-Delta.Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[George Washington (1732 - 1799)]
12-18-07, 05:26 PM #2
Rest in peace.
12-18-07, 05:29 PM #3
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12-18-07, 05:44 PM #4
12-18-07, 06:20 PM #5
12-18-07, 06:51 PM #6
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12-18-07, 07:02 PM #7
12-18-07, 07:02 PM #8
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12-18-07, 07:03 PM #9
12-18-07, 07:24 PM #10Corporal
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12-18-07, 08:54 PM #11
Thoughts and prayers for his family and department.
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12-18-07, 09:22 PM #12
12-19-07, 12:48 AM #13phoenix Guest
So sad..Come back stronger than before,my friend..Rest when you are ready.
12-21-07, 02:12 PM #14phoenix Guest
12-21-07, 08:01 PM #15
I just returned from kent's funeral. It was moving. I've known 4 deputies that have lost their lives; 2 to tc and 2 to violence. I worked with him at TCSD before I left for my current dept.
I read it here just minutes before I received a phone call informing me. thanks papabear!
I rememberred all the good times we had during the 4 hr drive to visalia. staying up here tonight and visit with friends before returning to Ventura county.
Rest in peace Haws!
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