Mourners stream to Murrieta restaurant owned by family of slain deputy – Press Enterprise

A steady stream of mourners left flowers, candles and messages on Saturday, Jan. 14, outside a tiny restaurant on Washington Avenue in downtown Murrieta a day after Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun Jr. was slain when he arrived at a domestic disturbance call near Lake Elsinore.

Darnell Calhoun Sr. would beam whenever he’d talk about his son—the police officer—while serving customers at the Calhoun Family Texas Barbeque.

“He was so excited about his son’s career,” said Al Bennett, 59, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. “His son wanted to help people and protect people.”

“He said he was so proud of him and that this is what he wanted to do,” said Al’s wife Jennifer Bennett, 46.

Many of the people who turned out as rain began to fall are longtime customers of the restaurant. The Calhouns prepare a set amount each day, and when they run out, that’s it.

Calhoun Jr. grew up in Murrieta and was homeschooled.

Some mourners remember Deputy Calhoun serving them in the restaurant, which has a sign inside that reads, “There will be a $5 charge for whining.”

A memorial also jumped up outside the Riverside County Sheriff’s station in Lake Elsinore, where Calhoun had been assigned.

Back at the restaurant, patrons described the family as generous, kind and God-fearing. The eatery is closed on Sundays.

“They’re a beautiful family. They’re just so giving,” said Lori Robles, whose son Connor used to work there.

Calhoun Jr. was “very kind, very warm, a genuine good heart.”

Jill Harwood, 55, would cater food from the restaurant for large gatherings.

“I was devastated when I heard the news,” she said.

Around 11:30 am, family friends, including the restaurant’s bookkeeper, loaded many of the flowers and plants into a black, double cab pickup to bring to the family. Someone affixed a whiteboard to a window outside the closed restaurant and placed a bucket of permanent markers that well-wishers used to write messages.

“May God bless your family & friends. He’s in the presence of the Lord!” said one.

Said another: “Thank you for your service. Fly high with the Angels. God bless your family.”

Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed near Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore Man, 42, is accused of shooting and killing Riverside County deputy

Calhoun and his wife were expecting a child, Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a Friday night news conference. Social media posts and photos show Calhoun with two young sons.

He joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in February 2022 and was assigned to the Lake Elsinore Station after working with the San Diego Police Department for two years.

gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Saturday, “Jennifer and I are heartbroken by the loss of Deputy Calhoun, a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all those he served with at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, who are mourning the painful loss of another deputy weeks ago. Deputy Calhoun died a hero and his bravery and selfless service will always be remembered.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta also offered condolences.

“Deputy Darnell Calhoun represented the best of the California spirit — protecting and serving the public with valor,” Bonta said Saturday. “On behalf of the nearly 6,000 men and women of the California Department of Justice, I extend our deepest condolences to Deputy Calhoun*s family, colleagues, and the entire Riverside community. His service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

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