Law enforcement members from all over the country have converged on Modesto this morning for the funeral of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Garner. Garner and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson were killed in a single-vehicle crash on Crows Landing Road May 13. The crash remains under investigation. Services for Johnson are scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m.
We will update this story throughout the services.
12:59: Funeral service concluding. Reception at CrossPoint Community Church to follow.
12:53: Helicopters fly over in tribute. The honorary end-of-watch radio dispatch is made.
12:43: A rifle salute is fired, bugler plays Taps.
12:34 p.m.: Bagpiper begins funeral service at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson. Deputy Garner’s casket is taken past mourners in a horse-drawn wagon accompanied by an honor guard.
11:03 a.m.: The service is concluding, and law enforcement members are filing out of the church. A procession is set to begin to Lakewood Memorial Park at 11:45 a.m.
10:58 a.m.: A singing group Garner’s daughter belongs to has taken the stage and is performing.
10:50 a.m.: A video tribute has begun.
10:48 a.m.: Outside the church this morning, two volunteers with the Elk Grove-based group End of Watch made the rounds pulling a wagon loaded with little treat bags for responders attending today's services. “We've been to a lot of funerals and know officers come out hungry and thirsty,” said Mark Bartley, who was with a law enforcement chaplain, Carrie Parrish. They brought about 1,500 bags containing nonmeltable, mostly donated snacks. Southwest Airlines for example donated bags of peanuts. Bartley said End of Watch has been around a couple of years, and will do the same at Raschel Johnson's memorial tomorrow.
Modesto police Lt. Rigo DeAlba said the End of Watch efforts are appreciated. Officers arrived early for the memorial, so were on their feet a good while, then will have to drive the procession almost immediately after coming out of Crosspoint. Then they’ll be standing in the heat in wool uniforms and bulletproof vests during the funeral, so the snacks will be welcome. Plenty of water and shade canopies are provided at both Crosspoint and Lakewood, he added.
10:35 a.m.: Garner was thinking about joining the mounted unit of the sheriff’s department, Nobriga said. So he talked Nobriga into building a horse barn on his property. “At that time, I had never even pet a horse.”
10:32 a.m.: John Nobriga, Garner’s best friend, takes the stage with David Garner, Jason’s father. Nobriga wrote a letter to Garner he wants to share. He met Garner in Lodi when he wanted to rent an office. They were both private investigators, and Garner also managed the office building. “You wrote up a lease for me, and from that moment forward we became friends.”
10:28 a.m.: Crosspoint Pastor Mike Whiteford: “Jason not only loved people and was loved by people, but he got to experience for himself the perfect love that is found only in Christ.”
10:20 a.m.: Nathan Garner: “When I think of Jason, there are so many memories and stories that come to mind. What stands out most to me is how Jason made a path for so many things in my life ... standing here today, I really wish one of those things was public speaking.”
10:18 a.m.: Garner’s brothers, Jared and Nathan, are at the podium. “To me, Jason was my big brother. My rock and my best friend,” Jared Garner said. “He was someone who was there for you whenever you needed him.”
10:16 a.m.: Christianson: “Heaven apparently needed a hero. Someone brave enough to carry on. ... Carry on, Deputy Garner. Carry on.”
10:13 a.m.: Christianson is reviewing Garner’s career: In one performance evaluation, a supervisor said: “He has a positive attitude and the drive and motivation to do the right thing, and do a good job.”
10:09 a.m.: Christianson said he was in Washington D.C. when he was tipped off via text that “something was wrong at home.” He was there to honor those killed in the line of duty in 2016. “How can this be happening again? ... The flight home was the longest flight of our lives.”
10:06 a.m.: Sheriff Adam Christianson: “I’m grateful to the community as a whole for the outpouring of support as once again we work through a tragedy at the sheriff’s department. .. once again, we gather together to mourn the loss of a member of our public safety family.”
10 a.m.: The service has begun, with a bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace”.
9:40 a.m.: A patrol car positioned to take part in the procession bears the names of Garner and Johnson, with a black band over the sheriff’s star.
9:04 a.m.: Deputy Garner’s family is inside Crosspoint Church.