Fallen Pierce County deputy’s memorial vandalized
It has been over two years since Pierce County sheriff’s deputy Daniel McCartney was killed while responding to a home invasion robbery in Frederickson, but his memory has not been forgotten by a family who lives nearby.
They tend a memorial consisting of handmade signs, a flag and lighted candles not far from where he died.
Kaolin Trujillo and her family, who maintain the memorial, found it vandalized on the morning of June 27.
“One morning I woke up and I wanted to go down to replace the candles that burnt out, and me and my son Gabe walked down there and we noticed that someone had kicked down the cross.
You can tell that it didn’t get blown over. Someone did this on purpose,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo found the cross broken on the ground, the fallen officer’s flag thrown in the bushes and ripped apart, and smashed candles, according to a Facebook post by Trujillo on June 29.
Trujillo was not going to let the vandalism stop her family from doing what they have been for the past year.
“We gathered the flag, we gathered all the glass pieces and we took them back to the house. And we put everything together again, and we made the flag sturdier and all of that,” said Trujillo.
She went back the same day to fix up the memorial like it was before.
Now, she’s hoping for support from the community. She said anyone is welcome to stop by the memorial and drop something off to remember McCartney.
“I want to make it look even more beautiful than before and show my kiddos that community always comes together,” said Trujillo in her Facebook post.
The idea to take responsibility in taking care of the memorial started a year ago when the Trujillo family bought the house next to the one where McCartney was responding the night he died, Jan. 7, 2018.
According to Trujillo, her family has helped keep the memorial clean and in good repair.
It was her 6-year-old son Gabe who influenced her, she said. Gabe has always been interested in police and wants to become one when he becomes older, Trujillo said.
He was curious about the memorial.
“When we first moved in, my kids always asked and mainly my son, Gabe, ‘What was that? What’s that cross for?’”, said Trujillo. “I explained to him that we bought the house next door to people that were doing not so good things and those people took a police officer’s life.”
Trujillo told Gabe and the rest of his siblings that the purpose of the memorial was for remembering McCartney. She wanted to instill in them sacrifices police officers make in order to keep people safe.
Ever since then, Gabe and his mom have been keeping the memorial clean and lit up.
“We go down every other night, and we light the candles right before bed. We say a prayer, and we try to clean it up as much as we can,” said Trujillo. “What we’ve done over the year, we made the memorial bigger so that people can go put things on there and drop stuff off.”
Other memorials have been erected for McCartney. One year after his death, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department unveiled a memorial that stands at the renamed “Deputy Daniel McCart
ney Firearms Training Center” in Roy.
In a note to the sheriff’s department earlier this year, Trujillo asked the department if it could visit the memorial. She wants to surprise Gabe and hopes the department can be there so her family can thank the department for all the sacrifice they do everyday.
Ed Troyer, sheriff’s spokesman, said in a statement to The News Tribune that he hopes to personally thank the Trujillo family for taking care of the memorial even after it got vandalized.
Troyer hopes to come with other deputies in order to present gifts to Gabe and thank him for honoring McCartney.
Troyer said deputy Kevin Roberts is getting a new flag, and he and other members of the department will arrive with other gifts, including a McCartney coin and a Core Values Coin.
Troyer said he hopes to do so by the end of the month.
“The importance is I’m trying to teach my children that it’s good to give to your community and it’s good to give something and you don’t get anything in return,” said Trujillo.
Gabe Trujillo stands next to a memorial honoring Pierce County sheriff’s deputy Daniel McCartney. The memorial has been maintained by the Trujillo family since they moved into the house next door to where McCartney was fatally shot.