Slain No. Calif. Officer Was Filling in for Sick Call
Henry K. Lee, The San Francisco Chronicle
The Red Bluff police officer who was shot and killed while pumping gas had been filling in for a sick colleague, authorities said Wednesday as they searched for an assailant in the slaying.
Officer David Mobilio, 31, a four-year veteran who grew up in Santa Clara County, had agreed to cover for an ailing officer on the graveyard shift early Tuesday, said Officer Quintan Ortega, president of the Red Bluff Police Officers Association. Mobilio usually worked the day shift. "The officer's pretty upset," Ortega said. "It's a great loss to lose an officer in that manner. We're just at a loss for words."
No arrests have been made in the slaying of Mobilio, who left behind his wife of six years, Linda, an elementary school teacher, and their 19-month-old son, Lucas.
Red Bluff police were saying little about the investigation Wednesday, but announced a $ 27,000 reward for information leading to the killer's conviction. Anyone with tips is asked to call Red Bluff police at (530) 527-3131.
Authorities said they were looking for a possible witness in the slaying: a man in his mid-20s, wearing a copper-colored beanie, in a brown Oldsmobile Achieva with California plates.
The killing has stunned the 23-member Red Bluff force and authorities in Tehama County, where the shooting of a law-enforcement officer is all but unheard of.
Mobilio was shot once in the head between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Tuesday as he stopped for gas at an unmanned station on North Main Street used by Red Bluff police and Tehama County sheriff's deputies.
Mobilio's gun was found near his body in the ready position with the safety off, indicating he had drawn his weapon, Police Chief Bob Petitt said. It was unclear whether it had been fired.
Mobilio had radioed in to a dispatcher at 1:27 a.m. that he would be getting gas for his patrol car, police said. When the dispatcher checked in with him, there was no response.
Red Bluff police Officer John Waelty and Sgt. Ted Wiley drove to the gas station, where they found Mobilio dead near the left front tire of his patrol car.
As police investigated the slaying Wednesday, Red Bluff officers -- their badges wrapped in black bands of mourning -- teamed up in groups of two for safety and were joined by officers from neighboring agencies on routine patrol.
Mobilio, a 1990 graduate of Saratoga High School, was remembered Wednesday as a caring, warm-hearted officer who took time to steer local schoolchildren away from drugs in his work as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer.
But beyond that, the officer took time to chat with students, playing "wall ball" at recess and eating lunch with them.
Jason Sisneros, 13, an eighth-grader at Vista Middle School in Red Bluff, said a small prayer for Mobilio before shooting a free throw in a basketball game Tuesday night.
"He helped a lot of people," Sisneros said Wednesday. "And I believe he helped me with my free throw. I just really can't believe that he's dead."
A public memorial service for Mobilio is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Tehama County Fairgrounds. Residents are being asked to drive with their headlights on all day and to display a blue light outside their homes between now and the memorial.
Contributions for the officer's family can be sent to the Red Bluff Police Officers Association, Family of Police Officer David Mobilio Fund, P.O. Box 8367, Red Bluff, CA 96080.E-mail Henry K. Lee at email@example.com.