Memorial held for federal officer shot at US courthouse
PINOLE, Calif. (AP) — Family and friends mourning a federal law enforcement officer who was fatally shot while guarding a U.S. courthouse in Oakland voiced poignant pleas Friday for an end to the violence that cut short his life, saying America needs to overcome discrimination and hatred.
David Underwood, 53, was remembered as a soft-spoken and charismatic natural athlete with a hearty laugh and a deep love for family and his job.
Mourners at a two-hour service at the high school where Underwood was a star baseball player said that those qualities suited him perfectly because he was a peacemaker.
Underwood, who was black, was killed May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland as a large demonstration was underway nearby over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We must not be embittered by this horrific injustice. Hate, vengeance and violence solves nothing,” said his older sister, Angela Underwood Jacobs, a recent Republican candidate who sought to fill a vacant U.S. district seat north of Los Angeles.
She added: “We will, we must, as individuals and as a society overcome discrimination, bias, hatred and violence of any kind whether it be against African Americans or people who wear the uniform in peace, as our brother did, to protect and serve and to ensure the safety of all."
Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, joined the ceremony to honor Underwood. In a video tribute, Wolf condemned the “senseless cowardly violence” that took Underwood’s life.
“Officer Underwood gave his life protecting us and we owe him and his family and colleagues a debt of gratitude we will never be able to fully repay,” said Wolf.
Underwood died from gunshot wounds in a drive-by shooting the night of May 29 as a protest in downtown Oakland that began peacefully sank into chaos. Underwood and a colleague were working that night as contract security officers for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.
Federal authorities say the shooter used the protest as cover for the crime. Authorities say that Underwood, who is African American, was targeted because he wore a uniform.
Last week, the FBI announced murder charges against Air Force Staff Sgt. Steve Carrillo. Authorities say Carrillo used the same homemade AR-15-style rifle eight days later to kill a Santa Cruz deputy in a hail of gunfire that wounded four other officers. Carrillo faces separate state charges for the June 6 fatal shooting of Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.
Authorities allege that Carrillo, 32, had ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement and had hatched a plan to target federal law enforcement officials during the Oakland protest.
Jacobs spoke before Congress last week in a House hearing on racial profiling and police brutality. She remembered her brother as “a good man who only wanted to help others and keep his community safe. He had an infectious laugh and a corny sense of humor.”
Jacobs said her brother was proud to serve his community and asked why his killing has not elicited an outcry.
“My brother wore a uniform, and he wore that uniform proudly,” Jacobs said. “I’m wondering, where is the outrage for a fallen officer that also happens to be African American?”
Gecker reported from San Francisco.