Sheriff's office: Slain Calif. recruit was 'everything we seek' in an LEO
David Nguyen, who was fatally shot on a freeway this week, was described as strong, motivated, and brave
By Rick Hurd
East Bay Times
OAKLAND, Calif. — David Nguyen wanted to serve. That was clear to those who saw him in the Alameda County Sheriff's Office training academy.
Even before the academy, he was a member of the California National Guard.
"He asked good questions. He was a pretty motivated guy," sheriff's office spokesman J.D. Nelson said Thursday. "You know when you're looking for potential deputies, you're looking for a lot of things, and it's difficult to get all of them. We make sure that you're mentally ready, that you're physically ready and that you've lived your life in such a way that you're not going to be compromised down the road.
"He passed all of those things."
Nguyen was scheduled to graduate from the agency's 172nd training academy in February. But he died Tuesday afternoon after being shot on a freeway near the Bay Bridge toll plaza. He was 28.
He is believed the be the first active training academy recruit to be killed in the department's history, Nelson said.
"It's awful," Nelson said. "That's all you can say."
In a tribute to Nguyen on social media, the sheriff's office said he was "young, smart, strong, brave and everything we seek in a law enforcement officer. Our condolences to the Nguyen family and our 172nd Academy."
Authorities have not announced any arrests. The California Highway Patrol has not commented on the shooting beyond a statement they put out in the shooting's aftermath.
According to the CHP, officers responded to a report of a crash around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on the transition ramp between westbound Interstate 580 and westbound Interstate 80. Nguyen, who was not in uniform and was driving to his San Francisco home from the academy, was immediately determined to have been shot, the CHP said.
An ambulance took Nguyen to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was pronounced dead.
Nelson said Nguyen began his training in July and left an imprint among his peers. He also said his presence would've been welcome and needed within the agency.
"He represents a community that is underserved as far as demographics go within our agency," Nelson said. "He's Vietnamese, the son of immigrants. Anytime you can get good people who can help not just us or any law enforcement agency, you can continue to break down the cultural barriers that may exist."
Nguyen also was a military police officer for the California National Guard and a member of the Concord-based 870th Military Police Company. He enlisted in the National Guard in June 2012.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. David Nguyen, as they mourn the tragic loss of this committed soldier," National Guard Adjunct General Major Gen. Matthew Beevers said in a statement. "Specialist Nguyen was devoted to serving his community and was well-liked by his colleagues. He will be missed deeply."
At the sheriff's office training academy on Thursday, classes were cancelled for the second straight day.
"The plan is to allow them to grieve this thing out," Nelson said.
(c)2022 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)