Deputy Lonny G. Brewer

Dep. Lonny Brewer

End of Watch Dec. 5, 1987

Eulogy Delivered by Sheriff John Duffy
December 9, 1987 - 10:00 a.m. First United Methodist Church

It’s Saturday, December 5th. The department stores and malls are crowded with shoppers. There are only 20 shopping days until Christmas! A lot of families are together on this warm December day. Some are at the Christmas tree farm looking for that perfectly shaped evergreen to take home and decorate for this joyous season. Some are busy getting the outdoor Christmas lights strung on their homes and bushes and setting up the nativity scene on the lawn. Others are dozing in front of the television set, procrastinating on the shopping and decorating. Whatever they’re doing, at least they are together this fine Saturday. It’s the holiday season. That time of year when we pause to reflect on the eternal message of hope--“peace on earth, goodwill toward all men!” it’s a beautiful day, the way San Diego can be, a day or two after one of our rare rainstorms. I am getting ready to attend the Christmas luncheon for the retired deputy sheriffs’ association, a good day to reminisce and swap stories with men and women who have been part of my life for almost 35 years, it’s a great day, and deputy sheriffs are great people.

It’s Saturday, December 5th. It’s Cathy Brewer’s birthday. She has only had that name a few weeks, since she married Lonny Gene Brewer. They have been so happy together - when they could be together. Today, they won’t be Christmas shopping, looking for a tree, decorating their home in El Cajon, or even dozing in front of the TV. As things turn out, they won’t ever be doing those things together.

They are both sheriff's deputies and both are working today so that all those other families can have a safe and happy holiday season. Cathy is on duty as a traffic officer in the city of Poway and her husband, who is assigned to the special enforcement detail, was called out early this morning for a SWAT operation involving an armed and barricaded suspect in Escondido who had been shooting at neighbors and was refusing to surrender to police. Both Cathy and Lonny were raised around police families. They expect to work on weekends, holidays, even birthdays. Both of their fathers are retired from the San Diego police department. Cathy’s father was an officer and Lonny's father was a mechanic who kept the cars in the field, today, Cathy's happiness in her new marriage and her birthday is mixed with her concern for Lonny's safety. Even though he’s been assigned to SED for 2½ years, is well trained and very deliberate and careful, she can’t help but worry, he’s been successful on numerous similar operations, but she knows just how dangerous these barricaded suspects can be. Her fears are going to become a reality.

Today, December 5th (on her birthday), Cathy's newfound happiness and Lonny's life are ended! Shattered by a single bullet that pierced his upper arm, went through the bone, entered the chest cavity and severed his aorta. A bullet fired from an AK-47, by a mad man with a death wish; one who had terrorized his former wife, his neighbors and held police officers at bay for almost six hours. From what we know, he was a fantasizer -- a loser at life in almost every endeavor he attempted, but he succeeded in destroying life and happiness for Lonny Brewer, his wife Cathy, and both of their families before he played out his Rambo-like fantasy a few hours later and got his death wish.

And now, we meet again, as we have too many times in recent years, to mourn the loss of our fallen comrade, to share the grief of his wife and both their families, and to bury our dead! And again, to ask ourselves, why? And again to ask our god, why? And again, to ask the public and society we are willing to die for in order to protect, why?

We already know the answer! We have already examined our souls; we have already examined our courage. And, we have already examined our commitment. We did it when we first pinned on that badge, and from time to time, we have repeated that examination of our souls, our courage and our commitment. We know exactly why! As violence swirls around us and threatens to consume the fabric of our society and seems to overwhelm us we know that we are the few who can hold the line--who can offer any hope for survival of the peace-and tranquility guaranteed by the laws of our society. Not many of our fellow citizens, who are quick to criticize our every move, could ever muster the courage and commitment to do what we do. We know that, and that’s why we will no doubt meet like this again over another fallen officer, mourn the loss, share the grief, and bury our dead. Yes, we will even again ask, why? It’s part of repeating that examination of our souls, our courage and our commitment.

We are much like the 300 Spartan warriors who in 480 B.C. were led by the Lacedaemonian King Leonidas in a defense of their homeland against an entire invading Persian army. Even though they were outnumbered about 3000 to one, those courageous Spartans held off the invaders for ten days before the last man fell. The defenders were entombed at the site of their last valiant struggle and these words were inscribed, “go stranger, and tell the Lacedaemonians that we lie here in obedience to their laws.” The modern-day peace officer’s commitment to the people, to laws, even to the ultimate sacrifice, is no less. That’s why the same inscription is found in the state capitol at the memorial where California peace officers killed in the line of duty have their names inscribed in a large book. Lonny Gene Brewer knew that when he hit the door at that Escondido apartment. His name will be inscribed in that book and added to a large memorial being constructed West of The Capitol near the Supreme Court building.

Many citizens, like the Lacedaemonians, will see that name and the date, and I hope will wonder what was Lonny Gene Brewer, deputy sheriff for the county of San Diego, really like. I’d like to tell you.

Lonny Gene Brewer was born in San Diego on April 16, 1958 at mercy hospital to loving parents, Jack and Evelyn Brewer. His father was a garage owner and mechanic at the time, who later worked as a mechanic for the San Diego police department for 17 years. As Lonny and his brother, Jay Allen Brewer grew up in the san Diego area, there was plenty of family socializing with other SDPD employees (mostly officers) and their families, camping trips to the desert were a favorite Brewer family pastime and they were usually accompanied by police officers and their families. Lonny was always a well-behaved boy, who never gave his parents any problem. He did well in school and was usually at the top of his class, according to his father.’ he graduated from El Capitan high school in Lakeside in 1976, and not surprisingly, he went on to Grossmont college where he received an associate of arts degree in 1979, majoring in criminal justice. While attending college, he worked for May Company, K-mart and three different pest control companies in order to support himself. He also worked part-time for the El Cajon police department in their crime lab. In 1980, Lonny applied to be a deputy sheriff, competed successfully through all the tests, background and interviews, and was appointed by me on April 18, 1980, two days after his 22nd birthday, as a deputy sheriff in and for the county of san Diego. He rated near the top of his class in the sheriff’s academy and graduated on august 3, 1980. His first assignment was in the Central jail, followed by a tour in the Vista jail, on September 24, 1982, Lonny was assigned to the Poway sheriff’s station as a patrol officer, and on April 26, 1985, ten days after his 27th birthday, he was assigned to the Emergency Services Division, Special Enforcement Detail. On December 5, 1987, on his wife’s birthday, Lonny Gene Brewer was killed by hostile gunfire during a tactical operation in support of the Escondido police department, the phrase “killed in the line of duty,” ends his career and his life on this earth. That phrase will give us cause to honor him, and remember him forever.

More than that, the way he lived his life, will give us cause to admire him. We all enter this life with one guarantee--we will eventually leave this life and all the people we have touched. We have no control of our final destiny. All we can hope to control is the way we live our lives and thereby in some small way control the quality of our death. Lonny Gene Brewer did just that. His colleagues described him as a man of high principles, full of good faith and who had a certain “boyish” charm, he was the kind of man that others instantly trusted and liked, because he was so genuine. No phoniness, no falseness--no selfishness or guile in the way he treated others. If he told you something, you simply knew it was the absolute truth!

He was at the top of his class in our academy, maintained excellent physical fitness throughout his brief career, and went about his duties in a very willing, professional, but very quiet and unassuming way. As a member of a unit that performs dangerous duties most of the time, he was rated as analytical and a good thinker, never hasty in judgment or actions, he was always willing to do more than was asked of him, and was always considerate of fellow workers and family. Sometimes that was both at the same time, I’ve been advised that he was recently interviewing for and checking on other assignments in the department. The training staff says he wouldn’t apply for a position in the training division because his wife, Cathy, was already on the list, and he didn’t want to do anything to disrupt that. Although they never got to know him, the cadets in our current academy, who are just beginning their careers, have dedicated their class and all their efforts to the memory of deputy sheriff Lonny Gene Brewer. That’s part of the examination of our souls, our courage and our commitment--in defense of the people’s laws.