Capacity crowd fills arena to pay final tribute to slain Oakland officers

Pleasanton officers join national outpouring at 2-1/2-hour funeral at Coliseum

More than 18,000 people gathered at Oracle Arena in Oakland today for a funeral for four local police officers who were fatally shot Saturday.

Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley; and Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord, were honored during the memorial.

There was not enough room in the arena to accommodate all of the attendees, according to Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason, who said the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum nearby was used for the overflow crowd.

The officers' coffins, draped in American flags, were brought in the arena's north entrance one-by-one, with each hearse receiving a motorcycle escort by police while their colleagues stood at attention and saluted the fallen men.

Police say the officers were killed by 26-year-old Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, an ex-felon who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for allegedly violating his parole by failing to meet with his parole officer.

Mixon was killed at the end of his confrontation with police.

Acting Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan spoke at the ceremony, saying "we wonder how is it possible that this could have happened," and that "we remember our fallen comrades for their smiles, their personalities ... and their time with us."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and state Attorney General Jerry Brown were also scheduled to speak at the funeral.

Thomason said law enforcement officers from throughout the nation, as well as from foreign countries, are in the city to pay tribute to the

fallen officers.

Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association, said the turnout is "unbelievable."

Delagnes said an estimated 15,000 police officers were here from around the country, and that the 8,000 seats set aside in the arena for police had filled up long before the ceremony began.

These included a contingent of eight Pleasanton motorcycle officers from the department's traffic division with more Pleasanton officers also attending the service.

Delagnes said between 400 and 500 San Francisco police officers, or roughly a quarter of the department's workforce, were attending the funeral.

"We're happy to be a part of this and we can all feel like we're one family," he said.

Outside agencies were policing Oakland today to free up local officers for the funeral.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office took the lead in that effort, assisted by the California Highway Patrol and police from Berkeley, San Leandro and the East Bay Regional Park District.

CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said the agency allowed trucks to drive on Interstate Highway 580 to alleviate traffic near the funeral.

The CHP was also providing traffic control and escorting the families into and out of the arena, and may close ramps as needed along Highway 880, Interstate Highway 980, state Highway 238, Interstate Highway 680, and Interstate Highway 580 to make way for motorcades.

Janet Pelletier,Jeb Bing,Jeff Shuttleworth,Dan McMenamin,Bay City News

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Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Parkside
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:01 am

God Bless these 4 officers, their familes and friends - as well as all police officers throughout our nation.

My prayers are with you all this day.

Like this comment
Posted by Huh
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:21 am

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Like this comment
Posted by maryanne
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

With a heavy heart I watched the procession that began in Tracy and headed to Oakland, this morning, from the overpass. I was overwhelmed with grief. For the slain officers, for their families, and for police officers everywhere.

Our local officers lined the overpasses with their lights on, and along side them were our firefighters with their truck's lights on. My heart aches for your tireless work and dedication to keeping our cities strong and our citizen's safe.

It is a day of mourning, indeed, and my prayers are with the fallen officers and their familes. May God hold you in the palms of His hands.

Like this comment
Posted by Kristin
a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I watched the memorial services for these 4 heros. My heart and prayers go out for the families. May they always be a shining example for our communities to look up to.

Like this comment
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Thank you for removing Huh's comments.

Like this comment
Posted by Garry
a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

After attending the memorial service today in Oakland I want to say how honored I am to live in our community with such fine Police officers - the men and women that protect us are worthy of our respect, honor and admiration.

Thank you

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