Tara O'Sullivan, a 26-year-old Sacramento police officer gunned down while responding to a call, "was a force for good in the world," the chief said as her family and colleagues grieved at a memorial service Thursday.
"She loved being a police officer," Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said. "Tara loved this department and this city and today is our turn to show how much we love Tara and the entire O'Sullivan family."
"Tara made a real difference in countless lives in just a short amount of time," he said. "She embodied what we strive to be as police officers."
O'Sullivan graduated from the police academy in December and was hired in January, fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an officer.
On June 19, O'Sullivan was partnered with a training officer and accompanied by others from the department when she responded to a domestic dispute. The officers were standing by at the home at the while a woman gathered some of her belongings when O'Sullivan was shot, police said.
Multiple officers fired back in the intense firefight, police said. The standoff lasted hours until the suspected shooter surrendered, police said.
That day "evil showed its face in our city," Chief Hahn said at the service at Bayside Adventure Church in Roseville, California. "Tara and her partners responded. They responded to help somebody in need, regardless of the circumstances."
Pastor Anthony Sadler called the slain officer "one of our best living examples of bravery."
Pastor Anthony Sadler: "Tara’s dad wants everyone to know she loved being a Sacramento police officer. Tara’s family will always be a part of the Sacramento police department and the Sacramento department will always be a part of the family." #TaraOSullivan @ABC10 pic.twitter.com/hOqrtnatMt— Mike Duffy (@simplyduffy) June 27, 2019
"On this day we lost an amazing person, incredible officer and treasure in our city," Hahn said. "But we only lost her physical presence because I believe she's here today smiling down on all of us."
Hahn read O'Sullivan's own words that she wrote in a self evaluation at the end of the police academy.
“”She wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a young girl.
"Through the good days, bad days, long days, extra long days I wouldn't change it," she wrote. "I learned so much about myself and came so far in the past six months. It is now time to tackle my next challenge... field training. I'm excited."
"She wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a young girl," O'Sullivan's godfather, Gary Roush, said at the service. When that became reality, "she was over the moon."
"When I first met Tara she was a precious 4-year-old girl. I could see she glowed with life," he said. "She had an intellect and curiosity that seemed unusual for such a young girl -- traits that grew as she grew."
What today is all about. His mother told us he woke up early just to make sure he was geared up to honor Officer O’Sullivan. Thank you to all of you, our community, who have shown such tremendous support. (Photo courtesy of Elisa Smirl-Serna) #TaraOSullivan pic.twitter.com/kfJwJU9ipe— EGPD (@ElkGrovePD) June 27, 2019
Speakers at the service described her as authentic, bossy, brave and a natural leader.
"None of the glowing adoration you hear of her today is embellished," Roush said. "She was one of those rare people who devoured life ... both an aggressive vigor and a gentle touch."
Despite all O'Sullivan had accomplished in her 26 years, Roush found it difficult to think of everything she's missing.
The young officer was going to be maid of honor at her sister's wedding next year. Roush said O'Sullivan told her godfather she wanted him to officiate her wedding one day.
And in her career, "she likely would have risen to the highest rungs in the ranks," Roush said.
Pastor Sadler said, "As far as the O'Sullivan family is concerned, they will forever be a part of the Sacramento police department, and the department will forever be a part of the O'Sullivan family."