DAVIS — The investigation into Thursday night’s fatal shooting of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona continues Friday at the home where the suspected gunman was found dead. Police have not yet released the man’s name.
Corona died after being shot in the city’s downtown district. The shooting occurring at a collision scene to which Corona responded just a few weeks after starting her first solo patrol shift with the agency.
Officer Natalie Corona is shown in a courtesy photo published to Facebook.
Her suspected killer also was dead hours later. Police confirmed shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday that the man was found inside a residence at 5th and E streets with what “appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
His name has not been released, nor has his apparent motive for opening fire at Corona, 22, as she responded to a three-vehicle crash Thursday evening at Fifth and D streets.
“During the investigation of the accident, shots were fired. Officer Corona sustained gunshot injuries and was transported immediately to the UC Davis Medical Center, where she passed,” an emotional Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said at a late-night press conference to announce Corona’s death.
Corona’s killing – Davis’ first officer death in nearly 60 years – sent dozens of federal, state, county and local law-enforcement officers swarming throughout the city in the manhunt for the shooter, which more than six hours later remained underway.
Flanked by Davis City Council members and other city and county officials, Pytel described Corona as “a rising star” in the department, having worked part-time as a community service officer since 2016, then graduating from a Sacramento police academy this past summer.
She was one of six new officers who were sworn into the department Aug. 2. According to a report in the Williams Pioneer Review, her father, Merced Corona, a veteran of the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, proudly pinned on her badge during the ceremony.
Corona is a 2014 graduate of Pierce High School, according to the Pioneer Review. She graduated June 23 from the Sacramento Police Academy after receiving an associate degree in administration of justice from Yuba College.
She embarked after her graduation ceremony on a rigorous six-month field training program, which she completed just before Christmas and began working patrol.
“I haven’t seen anybody be more motivated to be a police officer than Natalie,” Pytel said.
She also was a friend to many, with many of her fellow officers describing Corona as the sister or daughter they always wanted.
“This is just an absolutely devastating loss to the police department,” Pytel said.
“We have a lead at this point, a possible suspect,” Doroshov added. “Hopefully we can bring it to a conclusion at some point tonight.”Earlier Thursday, police spokesman Lt. Paul Doroshov delayed a news conference about the shooting investigation due to what he described as “a tactical situation that’s unfolding. We have to reserve some information in order to keep us safe.”
Some major activity was spotted near some residences in the area of Fifth and D streets, where about a dozen officers with guns drawn and accompanied by at least one K-9 approached a house next door to the fire station.
Later, officers used spotlights to light up the home’s exterior and issued commands for someone inside to come out.
“We know you’re inside. We saw you at the door,” they said over a loudspeaker. “Come outside with your hands up. No weapons.” Moments later, the sound of what seemed to be a flash-bang stun device could be heard, followed by further commands to “give yourself up.”
The incident that led to fatal shooting began at about 6:40 p.m. with reports of a three-vehicle collision at Fifth and D streets, not far from the Davis Fire Department headquarters. Corona was the first officer to respond to the scene.
“For a reason unknown to us, shots were fired,” Doroshov said, though where on Corona’s body and how many times he wouldn’t say. Davis firefighters on duty at the downtown station responded immediately and began lifesaving effort before her transport to the University of California, Davis Medical Center.
Merced Corona pins the Davis Police Department badge on his daughter, Natalie, at her swearing-in ceremony, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Courtesy photo)
Meanwhile, the manhunt was underway, shutting down much of downtown Davis as residents and business were advised to go into lockdown mode. Law-enforcement vehicles also were seen stationed at major intersections throughout the city.
A UC Davis alert went out to the campus community at 7:47 p.m., warning people to shelter in place, and describing the suspect as a white man in his 20s with average build, wearing a baseball cap, black jacket, blue or tan jeans and black tactical boots.
Witnesses had reported hearing numerous loud popping sounds in the area of the collision scene, although police couldn’t immediately say whether the suspect was involved in the crash or happened upon the scene. It was also unclear whether the other involved motorists had been questioned.
Doroshov, whose agency’s last shooting of a police officer occurred in 1959, said the tight-knit, family oriented department of about 60 sworn officers is holding up as best as it can.
“We’re all pretty shocked,” Doroshov said. “I think everyone holding it together, trying to do their jobs very professionally, but it’s hard.”
Davis’ last officer to die on duty was Douglas Cantrill, who was found inside his patrol car with a gunshot wound to his heart Sept. 7, 1959. His killer was never caught and the case remains unsolved. Cantrill Drive, which runs along the west side of the Davis police station, is named in his honor.
“We’re all pretty shocked,” Doroshov said. “I think everyone is holding it together, trying to do their jobs very professionally, but it’s hard.”
Davis’ last officer to die while on duty was Douglas Cantrill, who had served only a month with the department when he was found fatally shot by his own service weapon inside his patrol vehicle on H Street on Sept. 7, 1959.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page website, Cantrill had stopped a man and woman who were acting suspicious in the residential area he was patrolling. Two suspects were apprehended, but no murder charges ever filed.
Cantrill, 23, was survived by his wife and infant child.
Corona is the first law-enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Yolo County since June 15, 2008, when Yolo County sheriff’s Deputy Jose “Tony” Diaz was gunned down after pursuing a suspected drunk driver in rural Dunnigan.
Davis Enterprise staff writers Anne Ternus-Bellamy and Tanya Perez contributed to this report.