REEDLEY, California (KGPE) – Tuesday marks 10 years since a horrific incident in Minkler took the lives of Fresno County Sheriff Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley Police Officer Javier Bejar.
Bejar and Wahlenmaier were both shot in the line of duty on Feb. 25, 2010. Wahlenmaier died serving a search warrant. Bejar was one of the first officers to respond to an officer down call. He was shot and passed away days later at Community Regional Medical Center.
“I can always remember him saying his famous words, ‘Hey Javier, how’s it going?’ He’d always say, ‘Good to go sir, good to go,'” Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza said.
To honor them Tuesday, the Reedley Police Department lowered its flag to half-staff.
Among those in attendance was Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association said, “Joel loved the outdoors. Joel was a natural fit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains both on and off duty. Joel valued the times he was able to work on SAR and OHV which gave him the opportunity to work in the environment he loved.”
Former Reedley Police Chief Steve Wright was also there.
“I thank you again, Chief Garza, for your continued support of carrying on this tradition and to celebrate the life and embed the legacy of Corporal Bejar, in our hearts and in our minds,” Wright said.
Many members of Bejar’s family were present, including nieces and nephews he never got the chance to meet. But although they never met face to face, his heroic actions will always be told and honored.
“Tell them just how he was very ambitious, he was really a role model,” Daisy Bejar, Javier’s sister, said. “We share that with them and let them know he was just an amazing person full of life.”
Joel Wahlenmaier is survived by his wife Bev Wahlenmaier, daughter Amy, son Austin, parents, siblings, in-laws and many other extended family members.
Officer Bejar served with the Reedley Police Department for five years. He also served with the U.S. Marine Corps and was a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.