BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Friday afternoon, friends and family gathered to honor the life of Kern County Sheriff's Office Deputy Gabriel Gonzales who passed away this past September due to COVID-19.
Deputy Gonzales served the Frazier Park community as deputy for 11 years. Although he is a Bakersfield native, through the stories heard today it is obvious he loved Frazier Park and the people there love him too.
One person even said he used to call himself the mayor of Frazier Park.
He was not the only family member in law enforcement. His brother Arthur Gonzalez is also part of the Kern County Sheriff's Office community and today spoke about the bond this created among them and the relationship between the two.
He added that given they were both parts of KCSO, he always wanted them to work together.
“I talked him into becoming a deputy, enter the academy hoping we would one day work together. Sadly, that day never came,” said Arthur.
He added the last time he spoke with his brother; Gabriel was on a ventilator. He said it broke his heart to know he was alone especially knowing how big of a people person he was.
Gonzales’s coworkers also spoke to their love for him.
“I miss the closest thing to a brother, I will probably ever have,” Matt Alvarez, beat partner at KCSO.
Words like brother, friend, supporter, and dad were often repeated by those honoring Deputy Gonzales who leaves behind a family including his son.
“I will never forget all the memories we had, I miss you every day and I will always love you, Jacob,” said Gonzales' son Jacob.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said they are around death a lot in this occupation, but when it happens to one of their own, it seems harsher
The deputies are out there every single day providing a service and in this case, it cost him his life and we know that is a hazard.
Gonzales is the second law enforcement officer in Bakersfield area to die from COVID-19, a sight that has become all too common across the nation.
According to the officer down memorial page, COVID-19 has been the number one killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021.