Yucaipa residents Thursday recalled a sheriff's detective killed in a shootout during the search for fugitive Christopher Dorner as a big-hearted man who was loved by many people, including employees of the San Bernardino Police Department.
Detective Jeremiah MacKay, 35, was a 15-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and a resident of Redlands.
Kirsten Fountaine of Yucaipa works in San Bernardino police records, and she heard the initial calls of "officers down" as the gun battle unfolded Tuesday east of Angelus Oaks.
Fountaine was visibly shaken and struggled to hold back tears Thursday when she came to leave flowers at a memorial for MacKay outside the sheriff's Yucaipa Station on 5th Street.
"I know him through friends from work," Fountaine said. "I'm a breast cancer survivor. About five years ago he came to my 10-year survivor party, and now I'm mourning the loss of him.
"He had a big heart," Fountaine said. "He was such a happy guy. I didn't know him like everybody else did. I just wanted to come and pay my respects. . . .
"I was at work and when they said officers down. It's always discouraging when they say officers down, but when I found it was Jerry, Jeremiah, it was like . . . he was just so loved by everybody, from everywhere. There's a lot of people from our department that know him and love him."
Kayli Hawker and Eric Bamford came to the memorial for MacKay and Hawker shed tears as she spoke about him.
"We heard about it through family and friends," Hawker said.
"We're soccer coaches in the community, and a lot of the law enforcement here in town have kids that play in the league," Bamford said. "The YVYSO, Yucaipa Valley Youth Soccer Organization.
"The officers here in town, we see them all the time, our daughter did a field trip here recently and he was one of the officers here talking to the kids," Bamford said. "All the officers here are great, they support us and the community. It hits home what happened."
David Clayton Ward of Yucaipa brought a black star-shaped balloon and a small flower arrangement to add to the bouquets and candles already sitting a the base of a pole with flags lowered in tribute to MacKay.
"I truly appreciated this fine officer," Ward said. "He came to help me out at my house last week, and he spent a whole hour speaking to me and talking to me, assuring me they'll be doing the very best job. God bless our boys and women for helping us out and protecting us, and thank God for them.
"He came a year ago to my house for a same type of incident," Ward said. "He really had concern about his citizens . . . . I tried to get his name last week and even the year before and I was unable to do so.
"Then I seen the sad incident that happened, and I remember his face freshly in my mind, what a sweet man, what a sweet loving gentleman," Ward said.
"I was on California Street the day that it happened and I seen special officers flying by. I seen multiple cities' police officers flying by. I listened to the news right away and about four hours later they announced one death of an officer.
"I don't want any officer to be hurt at all, but I was praying, especially for this officer, praying that it wasn't him, and sadly to say it was him. Like I said, he was a brotherly kind of man, that anybody would absolutely love and adore, just a very sweet individual."
Whether a burned-out cabin in Seven Oaks contained the remains of Dorner, the rogue ex-LAPD cop, authorities believe he is accountable for four killings in the space of ten days: a former LAPD captain's daughter and her fiancé in Irvine on Feb. 3, Riverside police Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7, and MacKay on Feb. 12.
Crain's funeral was Wednesday in Riverside and he was laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery.
A fundraising site set up for MacKay's family received more than 1,200 Facebook likes but it was taken down Thursday afternoon.
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