'Heart of our little family': Wife, colleagues grieve Santa Cruz sergeant killed in ambush

J.R. Stone Image
Monday, June 8, 2020
Vigil held for deputy killed in Santa Cruz County
EMBED <>More Videos

A vigil was held for Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller after he died in an ambush near Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz County.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- "I will never forget him, I will always feel pain when I think about him," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart remembering his sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, the deputy who investigators say was ambushed, gunned down, and killed on Saturday.

"He was a good father, he was a good husband, he was a good friend to me at this office," says Chris Jones who worked with Gutzwiller.

RELATED: FBI investigates possible link between deadly officer shootings in Santa Cruz Co., Oakland

Former Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Captain Kathy Bramonti spoke highly of Gutzwiller as well saying, "When you look at his picture you'll see everything you need to know, warm eyes, a kind smile, he was a very gentle man. He's loved and he will be missed."

Hundreds showed up outside the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office on Sunday to remember Gutzwiller, who in addition to being a respected deputy, was both a father and a husband.

"The beautiful woman that he leaves behind, Fabi wanted me to tell you something. 'You were the heart of our little family and we love you,'" said Sergeant Steve Ryan who spoke during the vigil.

Some hugged and others held signs as they remembered a man who had a special smile and a special way with people.

RELATED: Air Force sergeant arrested on suspicion for killing of deputy in Santa Cruz County

The sheriff says in Gutzwiller's 14 years with the office there wasn't one citizen complaint about him.

Those who were close to him are devastated. Family friend Hailey Poole couldn't hold back the tears when we asked her what she'd remember about Gutzwiller.

"Just his smile, he had the best smile and you could see it. He was always happy," she continued by making a pledge to the sergeant's pregnant wife who he leaves behind, "we'll take care of his kids and his wife and we'll be there."

Authorities tell us Gutzwiller's wife was inside the sheriff's office during the vigil and was able to hear everything said about her late husband.