‘Rising star’ officer shot to death after responding to car crash

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jan 11, 2019

DAVIS, Calif. – A Northern California police officer was shot and killed while responding to a multi-vehicle crash Thursday night in downtown Davis, according to police.

Davis Officer Natalie Corona (Credit: Facebook)

Around 6:45 p.m., Officer Natalie Corona was investigating a three-car crash in the area of 5th and D streets when someone walked up and began shooting, according to Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel.

The police department reports the 22-year-old officer was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center with serious injuries before she died.

Several law enforcement agencies joined in the search for the suspect, who has been described as a white man in his 20s wearing a baseball cap, black jacket, blue or tan jeans and black tactical boots.

Late Thursday night, officers surrounded a home on 5th Street, calling for someone inside to come out.

Around 1 a.m. Friday, the Davis Police Department said the suspected shooter was found dead in a home near 5th and E streets from a what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Another person at the scene of the crash was taken away in handcuffs, but it's not clear what involvement that person may have had in the incident.

Thursday's violence is rare for the city of nearly 70,000, which is known for UC Davis and its charming, tree-lined streets. Chief Pytel reports the last time his department experienced a shooting-involved death of one of their officers was in 1959 when Officer Douglas Cantrill was killed by gunfire.

Pytel called Corona a "rising star in the department." She graduated from the Sacramento Police Academy in July 2018 before being promoted to an officer. The 22-year-old finished her field training around Christmas time, Pytel says, before she went out on her own just weeks prior to her death.

"She was just an absolute star in the department and somebody that pretty much everybody in the department really looked to as a close friend, a sister," Pytel told reporters at a press conference Thursday night. "And I’ve heard her described by our officers tonight as our daughter and our friend and our sister that we all wanted. This is just an absolutely devastating loss to the police department."

A Facebook post from the police department shows Corona carrying a bag of gifts to a Camp Fire victim in December.

"Natalie was just full of life and full of energy and just an absolute pleasure to be around," Chief Pytel said. "She loved being around everybody in the department."

She is survived by her parents.