Hundreds of people stood shoulder to shoulder at a candlelight vigil at Pierce High School on Sunday to remember slain Police Officer Natalie Corona, who was shot and killed on Thursday while on duty with the Davis Police Department.
More than 1,000 people attended similar memorials in Davis on Saturday and Elk Grove on Monday to remember the promising young officer.
“She represented the best of all of our communities,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, during Saturday’s vigil in Davis.
Corona, the daughter of Colusa County Supervisor Merced Corona, of Arbuckle, was a 2014 graduate of Pierce High School, who always aspired to become a police officer. The 22-year-old rookie started working for the Davis Police Department in 2016 in community services. She graduated from the police academy this past July, and her proud father, a retired sergeant with the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, pinned her badge to her uniform on Aug. 2.
Officer Corona had just completed her field training a few weeks prior to her death.
Davis Police Chief Darren Pyte said Corona was investigating a triple car collision at around 6:45 PM when her killer, 48-year-old Kevin Douglas Limbaugh approached her from the shadows and shot her multiple times, before he reloaded and shot a flurry of bullets at other people, striking a firefighter’s boot and a woman’s backpack, and then fled the scene on foot.
Limbaugh was found dead inside a Davis home a few hours later from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Pyte called Corona, who succumbed to her injuries at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, a rising star in his department.
“I’ve heard her described by our officers as our daughter and our friend, and just the sister that we all wanted,” Pyte said. “This is just an absolutely devastating loss.”
Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, whose district includes southern Colusa County, said her heart broke upon hearing the news of Corona’s death.
“We will, without a doubt, miss her dedication and passion for public safety,” Aguiar-Curry said. “Yet, I know that nothing we are feeling could possibly compare to the grief of her family at this time. I am grieving with the Davis community and with Natalie’s family. Our community is shaken, and we will struggle for a long time to process what happened.”
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office also issued condolences to Supervisor Corona and his family, and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered flags at the capitol, in Sacramento, lowered to half-staff.
In a statement on behalf of him and his wife, Jennifer Siebel, Newsom said he was saddened to hear of Corona’s death.
“We join all Californians in mourning the loss of this courageous officer and extend our deepest condolences to Officer Corona’s family, friends, and coworkers,” he said.
A police honor guard will stand watch over Corona’s body until her burial on Friday.
Services are planned for 11 AM at the ARC conference center at the University of California, Davis. After the memorial service on Friday, a law enforcement procession will take Corona’s body from UC Davis to her final resting place in Arbuckle.
Hundreds of mourners in Davis and Arbuckle have created memorials to honor the fallen officer.
In addition to the vigils, people posted loving tributes to Corona on Facebook, among them Arbuckle Parks and Recreation officials, who acknowledged Corona as one of their own.
Corona was a longtime ARPD employee and volunteer.
“She was extremely well loved by our community and will be deeply missed,” said Mary Grimmer, district manager.
Roger Long, who worked with Corona for many years with APRD, said his heart was broken over the senseless tragedy.
“She was a sweetheart, full of smiles and laughter and will be sorely missed,” Long said. “My prayers go out to her family and the Arbuckle community.”
Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso, who worked under her father for many years, said he knew Corona all of her life.
“All of the stories of her being the nicest, most genuine young woman are all true,” Saso said. “She had more heart than most, and if the world had more Natalie’s, it’d be a better place. She was only a police officer for a short period but her memory will last a lifetime.”
Charter Family Fruit Stand, where Corona had worked, said she was an extremely hard worker, and it was with the same level of hard work and dedication that she pursued her passion towards a career in law enforcement.
“Natalie was truly a beautiful soul whose kind-hearted spirit radiated through all those she touched,” the family said. “She will be greatly missed and in our hearts forever.”
Corona’s father, in a televised interview, said that he wanted people to remember that his daughter died doing what she loved, and that she knew of the dangers that came with the badge.
“She just enjoyed her job,” Supervisor Corona said. “She would come home, and she would be beaming.”
In addition to her father, Officer Corona is survived by her mother, Lupe, three younger sisters, and an extended family that includes many in law enforcement.
Corona was the second California police officer gunned down in recent weeks in California. Cpl. Ronil Singh, 33, of the Newman Police Department, was shot to death Dec. 26 after he stopped a suspected drunk driver. ■