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O.C. police leave today for Oakland officers' funeral

March 26, 2009 |  9:38 am

A swarm of police cruisers representing various Orange County law enforcement agencies will travel to Oakland this afternoon to attend the memorial services for four police officers killed during a weekend gun battle.

The cruisers will congregate at the Orange County Fairgrounds about 1:30 p.m., when they will begin their seven-hour drive to Oakland. The stream of black and white cruisers from police departments such as Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Buena Park, Cypress, Anaheim, Fullerton and La Habra, to name a few, will travel north on the San Diego Freeway and merge onto the Golden State Freeway.

Officers from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, as well as two Inland Empire police departments, Ontario and Corona, are expected to join them, said Det. Eugene Kim of the Costa Mesa Police Department.

On Saturday, Lovelle Mixon, 26, who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for violating his parole on a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, was pulled over by two officers. Shortly after, he opened fire, killing Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and wounding Officer John Hege, 41.

Later, Mixon fatally wounded two SWAT officers, Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, when they stormed the apartment where he was hiding. Dunakin, Sakai and Romans were pronounced dead that day. Hege was left brain dead after the shootout and was taken off life support Tuesday.

It was the deadliest shooting in California history, one that also hit close to home for officers at the Costa Mesa Police Department.

"We've had two of our officers killed in a helicopter crash, so it's worth our time to drive up," Kim said.

In 1987, several uniformed officers from multiple police agencies attended the memorial services of Costa Mesa Officers James "Dave" Ketchum and John "Mike" Libolt, who were killed when their helicopter collided with a civilian helicopter while pursuing a stolen car.

The drive, expected to be more than 400 miles, was organized by the Costa Mesa Police Assn. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

-- Ruben Vives

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