Longtime Pleasanton resident and former Mayor Frank Brandes Jr.'s heart sunk when he learned one of the three Oakland police officers slain Saturday was Sgt. Mark Dunakin.
Dunakin, who grew up in Pleasanton and graduated from Foothill High School in 1987, had been a close family friend. Brandes' youngest son went to school with Dunakin's brother Chris.
On Monday, Brandes recalled the life that Dunakin led.
"If you met him, you'd like him five seconds after," he said. "He died doing what he loved."
Dunakin was an officer in one of the most crime-ridden cities, and he did it by choice to make a difference in the community, Brandes said.
"This guy's an exceptional guy," he said. "He chose to stay in Oakland because he said there was work to do there."
Dunakin, 40, is survived by his wife, Angela Schwab, and their three children, who all live in Tracy. He was an 18-year veteran with the Oakland Police Department. He graduated from Chabot College in Hayward.
State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Castro Valley), adjourned the assembly Monday in honor of the fallen officers. In a statement released by her office, she said Dunakin "loved police work, having joined the Oakland Police Department in 1991. He worked homicide cases until transferring to the traffic division a few years ago, becoming a motorcycle officer, a position highly coveted by many in the police force."
Dunakin's wife Schwab, a former Alameda County Sheriff's deputy, was held captive by three robbers at an Outback Steakhouse in Dublin after responding to a 911 call. The 1998 incident left Deputy John Monego dead. There is a street off Tassajara Road in Dublin named after Monego.
Dunakin was shot to death as he was riding his police motorcycle at 74th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in east Oakland Saturday afternoon. What started as a routine traffic stop he made with Officer John Hege turned violent as the suspect, Lovelle Mixon, 26, fired shots and fled to a nearby apartment. Hege, 41, was declared braindead Sunday and remains on life support until a decision is made about organ donation, according to Oakland police.
After the initial shootings, a SWAT team was called to the scene, where police say several attempts were made to communicate with Mixon. When the SWAT officers entered the apartment, Mixon fired an assault weapon, killing Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35. Another officer, who was also shot, was released from the hospital Saturday. Hege was a 10-year veteran of the police department and is survived by his mother, father and two sisters. Romans was a 13-year veteran of the department and is survived by his wife and three children. Sakai was a nine-year veteran of the department and is survived by his wife and child.
Flags were lowered Monday to half staff at Pleasanton City Hall, the Pleasanton Police Department headquarters and at Foothill High School. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement today saying that flags at the state Capitol are being flown at half staff to honor the officers.
In an email sent to Foothill High faculty, Principal John Dwyer said he'd "received a number of calls and emails from those who remember (Dunakin)."
Foothill Band Director Bob Moorefield said Dunakin played the trombone all four years of high school.
"I've been devastated," Moorefield said of his reaction since learning about Dunakin's death. "He was an excellent trombone player. I've seen him once or twice since he graduated. As a kid in high school, he was very active. He was one of my finest young men. He was an extremely good kid. He was very responsible, very resourceful, very helpful with other students. He was the perfect example of what a young man should be."
A contingent of officers, likely all members of the traffic division from the Pleasanton Police Department, will join thousands of law enforcement agencies in attending a funeral service for the slain officers Friday. It will be held at 11 a.m. at Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way in Oakland, according to Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason. Funeral services are open to the public, but officials are asking attendees to arrive early.
Check www.pleasantonweekly.com for updates to this story.
Bay City News contributed to this report.