This week went downhill so quickly. Around 11 pm on Wednesday, we learned that a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty was one of graduates. Tara O’Sullivan was responding to a domestic violence call in North Sacramento on Wednesday evening. She was escorting a woman back inside to gather things so that they could get her out of there safely when a gunman opened fire on them from the back of the house. Tara later died from her life-threatening injuries. She had only been on the police force for six months.

Tara was one of our graduates and only 26 years old. We have a program called Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars which was created to recruit a more diverse set of officers, help candidates overcome challenges they may face, and to teach students to build bridges with the communities they serve. It’s a truly incredible program, and Tara was one of four graduates in the first class.

She was known as a natural leader who was one of the brightest students who has ever been through the program. One of our security officers in our building was close to her and said that everyone looked up to her and admired her work ethic. He said she always had a smile on her face, a positive attitude, an eagerness to help those around her succeed, and was one of the hardest working people during physical training. She was well-known on campus and we often interacted with her because she worked as a student employee with our campus catering. She was just a really outstanding person.

I feel sick over this and so deeply sad for her friends, families, and colleagues.

The suspect has a long history of domestic violence and has been in and out of jail. It continues to baffle me that the loophole still exists in the federal law that allows abusers to buy firearms in twenty-three states. if they did not commit violence against a parent or child. This man should never have had a high-powered rifle.

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