As you may know, two San Diego Police officers in the Gang Suppression Team were shot last night in San Diego. Officer Jonathan DeGuzman was murdered and Officer Wade Irwin is in serious condition but expected to recover. There are a few related matters I want to ask you to pray for, and I am writing to share some things you may not know about some of the people involved here which I have been privileged to meet and serve with.
First and foremost, please pray for the families of the officers who were shot, especially for the family of murdered officer DeGuzman whose wife and kids are without a husband and father today and need our support and prayers. For officer Irwin, that he would recover fully and that his family would be strengthened and supported as well. “Finest” is not simply a nice term we use for the police to decorate their vehicles, it is a statement of character and sacrifice and honor that these brave men and women deserve. And when they are attacked here or elsewhere in the country, it makes everyone less safe.
I simply cannot find the words to express how deeply saddened I am for these officers and their families. I ask you to pray for Chief Zimmerman and all of the San Diego Police Department and their families. Especially pray for those in the Gang Unit who are greatly affected by this.
This shooting happened two blocks away from a location where several of these incredible San Diego Police officers in the Gang Unit meet together monthly with officers from other law enforcement agencies, city officials, and a wonderful group of community activists and volunteers who like them are committed to preventing exactly this kind of thing. This group also organizes regular walks in this very community were these officers were shot. Uniformed police, detectives, and the sergeants they work with dedicate time going door-to-door along with these community volunteers in order to listen to residents, to better understand their concerns, and to learn how they can better protect the children at the schools along with everyone else who lives in a neighborhood burdened with strife and violence and hopelessness. Both the police and community leaders do this at great risk and with great courage, and they are making a difference. They are committed to knowing and being known by residents personally as this heightens trust and makes everyone safer.
Along with the police, this team includes pastors, some of whom are former gang members themselves. These pastors work so tightly with the police that when there is a gang related shooting, the police immediately notify them and they come to the scene, or they go to the hospital where a gang member or a police officer is being treated. These people reach out to gang members and offer hope and a way out of that life. They work hard with the police, churches and community organizations to prevent kids from joining gangs in the first place. The meetings are not religious in nature, yet, they often end with a prayer, where police officers, pastors, city leaders, community activists and volunteers, all of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, stand in a big circle holding hands and asking God to bless their work and keep them safe. It’s an incredible sight to see and very emotional to be a part of it in light of the increasing problems our nation is facing.
With the state of our nation being what it is, and the negative and false narratives and politically driven coverage that these shootings so often receive, I want you to know there are people doing great work related to these matters who you never see on television. They are police officers, teachers, bankers, pastors and more who are not looking for fame, they just want to end the violence and improve life for everyone. Please pray for the many people here in San Diego and around our country who beneath the smoke of it all are risking life and social standing to save lives and improve communities. I want you to know that there are incredible people right here in San Diego who do not agree about politics, who do not agree about how to do police work, who do not agree about a great many things, but who get together in a room and spend time listening to each other and working together to make life better and safer for the people they serve. These people are heroes. They understand justice and peace. They are grieving because of what happened here. Please pray for them that they will not lose hope, that they will continue to go the extra mile in serving and protecting our communities.
Additionally, please pray for the shooters involved here, and for the many who are connected to gangs and violent groups in San Diego. Pray that justice is done and that it is done swiftly, and then pray that whatever the case, like the pastors who are a part of the team I’ve been speaking of, that their hearts would be changed for the rest of their lives. Pray for the kids today who are being pressured to join a gang, which happens at a very young age, that they would turn away and be safe. Pray that they would hear the voices of wise mentors above the noise of the foolish tempters.
Finally, I ask you to pray for police chaplains, specifically my good friend San Diego Police Chaplain Chuck Price, who knew Officer DeGuzman personally and and often would be found as a ride along with him. Last night, Chuck left his shift doing a ride along with a Gang Unit officer less than 2 hours before this shooting. Our police chaplains are often exposed to the violent scenes and the grief that follows and are also unsung heroes to an increasing number of police families who have lost loved ones while they were on duty. Please pray for Chuck and for the other chaplains and ministers who are tending to many who are affected today. They have a unique calling to serve those who serve.
Thank you for praying for our great city and the San Diego Police Department, our city’s finest. Especially, pray again for the families of officer DeGuzman and Irwin. Please keep these matters in prayer as you pray for our nation and its people.