Support grows for Calif. officer in coma
Officer was critically wounded in the early morning hours of Aug. 22 when he and his trainee faced a heavily armed gunman
By Kristina Hernandez
Redlands Daily Facts
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — An outpouring of community support for wounded San Bernardino police Officer Gabriel Garcia continued Saturday as two businesses — Dairy Queen and Queen Bean Caffe — in his hometown of Yucaipa donated a portion of proceeds during a four-hour window to help his family. A fundraiser also was held in Rancho Cucamonga.
When the Yucaipa businesses — which are owned by Josh and Jennifer Conroy — announced the benefit, an outpouring of support ensued.
"We had people who came out of nowhere who wanted to donate something to the raffle," said DQ manager Meghan Nielson. "There's just a sense of community in a time of need, and it's amazing to see people come out and support us."
Nielson organized the effort after learning of the incident that left Garcia, 31, critically wounded in the early morning hours of Aug. 22 when he and his trainee faced a heavily armed gunman at 19th Street and Garner Avenue in San Bernardino.
Garcia's condition remained unchanged Saturday and he was still in a medically induced coma at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton after being shot in the head during a gunbattle.
The rookie police officer being trained by Garcia returned fire, killing the gunman, identified as 38-year-old Alex David Alvarado. The trainee's identity has not been released. He was not injured.
On Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m., a steady stream of customers began flooding the two Yucaipa businesses. As they received change from their orders, coins were added to a blue donation box with Garcia's photo.
Fifteen percent of proceeds made from orders were donated to the cause Saturday, Nielsen said. One hundred percent of proceeds made from a raffle, which included a handmade quilt and gift cards, were added to the pool.
Members of several law enforcement agencies dropped off donations, Nielsen said. Among the agencies: the Redlands, Ontario and Rialto police departments.
"The men and women of the police force are always protective of us, and this (effort) is showing we have their back, too," said Jessica Stanley, kitchen manager for Queen Bean Caffe.
An earlier fundraising effort Saturday morning at LoanMart Field, home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes minor league baseball team, brought in nearly $2,000 to the Garcia family.
The benefit — a softball tournament — featured members of various California law enforcement agencies and was hosted by Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Ben Zaredini.
Additional fundraising efforts are in the works, including a car wash planned for Saturday at Juan Pollo, 1258 W. Fifth St., San Bernardino. The event is being sponsored by the La Placita Neighborhood Associations and the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Watch.
The Yucaipa Dairy Queen and Queen Bean Caffe are no strangers to giving back.
When San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay was killed in February 2013 during a shootout with the fugitive ex-Los Angeles police Officer Christopher Dorner, both establishments held a similar fundraising effort.
Another was held for Yucaipa High School student Adam Downer days after he was struck by a drunken driver while taking out trash cans in front of his home on June 7, 2013. Adam survived his injuries with physical therapy and support from his family.
Proceeds from both efforts went toward medical expenses and to help each family, Nielsen said.
Donations to benefit the Garcia family can be sent via mail to the San Bernardino Police Officers Foundation, c/o Gabriel Garcia, P.O. Box 2967, San Bernardino, CA 92405.
Copyright 2014 the Redlands Daily Facts
McClatchy-Tribune News Service