Glendora Police Department Sgt. Marty Amaro slowly walked toward the Louis Anthony Pompei Memorial in San Dimas, his eyes still filled with grief. Explorers Post 402 members Mike Duke, Allcey Castellanos, Michael Othman and Matt Wendling stood quietly respectful, patiently waiting to raise the flag to honor the memory of a man dedicated to public safety long before they were born.
Amaro called retired Glendora police agent Brett Michealson in Northern California, informing his former colleague he’d speak for both of them at the 19th memorial salute for Louis Pompei, 30, who was murdered on June 9, 1995 while protecting San Dimas residents from armed robbers at Vons Market in San Dimas.
Pompei lived in San Dimas and had just gotten off duty as the Glendora police agent assigned to L.A. Impact, an elite regional squad of law-enforcement specialists fighting major drug trafficking, when he was fatally shot.
Robert Castro, Pompei’s best friend, had seen him only two weeks before his death. It was a happy occasion, the celebration of Castro’s elder son Robbie’s christening. For the past 19 years, Castro, his wife Cynthia, Robbie, Cynthia’s parents Bob and Mary Du Bois of Rancho Cucamonga, and Amaro have coped with their grief over Pompei’s death by attending every commemoration of Pompei’s “benevolent life, courageous legacy and compassionate service.”
“We keep coming because we promised we’d never forget,” Castro said.
The Castro boys - Robbie, now 19 and a college student, and Nick, 17, a high-school senior - show their respect by maintaining the memorials established in San Dimas and Glendora parks for what citizens of two towns call their hometown hero.
“He was loved by everyone in the department,” Amaro said about the man who even received notes of appreciation from criminals he’d arrested, thanking him for helping them transform their lives. “I loved his charisma, energy and willingness to accept everyone as they are. When we heard of how he’d died, it didn’t surprise us because he was the kind of man who’d always intervene to keep others out of harm’s way.”
The Rev. Karen Davis, Glendora’s mayor pro tem and the police department’s chaplain, moderated the commemorative organized by San Dimas activist Gary Enderle. Castro, the former Glendora chief who has been Glendale police chief since December 2013; Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab and City Manager Chris Jeffers; Glendora Councilman Joe Santoro; San Dimas Mayor Curt Morris; and Deena Taylor-Serra of Iowa, first cousin of Tracey Taylor Sareaga, Pompei’s fiancee, were among speakers.
Santoro, Monrovia’s retired police chief, called Pompei a wonderful human being and police officer, a man who never separated his humanity and regard for others from his law-enforcement duties. Pompei’s death was a shock for Glendora cops and citizens and law-enforcement agents “who never forget the officers and families who make the ultimate sacrifice for the community,” Santoro said.
Staab voiced hope that others will join him next year when he returns to Mahoney City, Pennsylvania, Pompei’s hometown where Staab and other honor escorts returned him for burial after thousands attended Pompei’s June 1995 funeral at the Crystal Cathedral.
“He came to California to serve the people of Glendora. We want his family and friends in Mahoney City to know we appreciated and loved him,” Staab said.
Tracey’s cousins, Deena and Charles Serra of Iowa, Justin and Reese Foster of Georgia and Phil, Jacklyn and Garrett Taylor of Rancho Cucamonga, all came to represent her and stand with 15 Glendora officers, San Dimas residents and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Kevin Martin and David Rodriguez and Sgt. Vicki Gregory because of their love for Pompei.
By Imani Tate / Inland Valley Daily Bulletin