WASCO, Calif. (KERO) — 23ABC is learning more about the weekend hostage situation in Wasco that left several people dead including a Kern County Sheriff's deputy.
On Monday, the sheriff's office confirmed that Deputy Phillip Campas was shot and killed Sunday during the incident. Deputy Dizander Guerrero, who suffered gunshot wounds, was treated and released. Several other deputies were also wounded.
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Three other people were found dead inside the home. The suspect died at the scene.
Deputy Campas trained many of the deputies who graduated from the KCSO. Sheriff Donny Youngblood even calling him a star. Tragically he was killed in the line of duty Sunday in Wasco, a devastating moment not just for the community and his department but for his family. He was a husband and a father of two young girls.
A visibly emotional Sheriff Youngblood confirmed that the 35-year-old Campas, a five-year veteran, died while attempting to rescue three shooting victims inside of a residence in Wasco.
Sheriff Youngblood said that at around 2:53 p.m. on Sunday the Kern County SWAT team approached a house after receiving calls of gunshots and possible victims. As SWAT approached the front door the male suspect began shooting at the deputies with a rifle. Deputy Guerrero along with Deputy Campas were hit by the suspect's rounds and were transferred to Kern Medical. Two other deputies were hit by shrapnel and remained on the scene.
While Sheriff Youngblood did not go into details about Deputy Campas' wounds he did say that Deputy Guerrero, a 10-year veteran of KCSO, was treated for gunshot wounds to the upper body and was released from Kern Medical Sunday night.
Sheriff Youngblood, fighting back tears, shared when DeputyCampas' family was notified of his death.
"I can tell you they are devastated as we are. This is was a star."
And they weren't alone. Several agencies gathered outside of Kern Medical just hours after the shooting, including California Highway Patrol and Kern County Fire. Over 100 deputies escorted
DeputyCampas's body to the coroner's office.
"He touched everybody in our organization," continued Youngblood. "Five years. Everybody knew who he was. He was on the honor guard. He was just a star in our organization. When you talk about police officers that run toward gunfire, that's him."
Deputy Campus was not only a SWAT team member but a patrol deputy and a recruit training officer joining the department in 2016. He also served as a U.S. Marine sergeant in Afghanistan in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom. He leaves behind a wife and two small children.
Meanwhile, the community can come to show their support during a candlelight vigil being planned this Friday at the KCSO headquarters at 1350 Norris Road.
Many local lawmakers and officials showed their support for Deputy Campas, Congressman and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying: "We lost a hero yesterday - Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Phillip Campas. Deputy Campas put himself in harm's way to keep his community safe - a sobering reminder of the challenges faced by our law enforcement officers every day. We will never forget his sacrifice."
And the Kern County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop also responded saying in part: "Deputy Campas was a husband, father, U.S. Marine, and a respected, well-known KCSO deputy and SWAT officer. He was murdered yesterday, doing his job trying to save lives. His death reminds us all of the extraordinary risks faced by our law enforcement officers, every day."
With the recent death of a law enforcement officer, 23ABC wanted to take an in-depth look back at those others here in Kern County who have died in the line of duty.
In total, 33 Kern County Sheriff deputies have died in the line of duty, counting Deputy Campas. The last deputy before Campas to be shot and killed in the line of duty was Deputy Richard McHale in 1989.
There have been 9 Bakersfield police officers killed in the line of duty. As well as one K-9 officer. The last BPD officer to die from being shot was the very first one, Thomas Jefferson Packard in 1903.
Jango was the K-9 officer who died and he was shot and killed by a suspect in April 2021.
And if we take a look at national numbers so far this year according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, as of June 30th 155 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. This is an increase of approximately 10 percent from the 141 officers killed during the same period last year.
These 155 line of duty deaths are on a pace to exceed the 295 deaths recorded in all of 2020.
The Kern Law Enforcement Association is funding a crowd-sourcing page with donations going to the family of Kern County Sheriff's Office deputy Phillip Campas who was killed in the line of duty Sunday in Wasco.
Officials at the Kern Law Enforcement Association said coming to work on Monday was hard and if they could sum it up in one word, It was "heavy."
“I'm sure there's a thousand phrases that can really articulate how we feel today," said Jeremy Storar, director for the KLEA. "As I said we're human at the end of the day. And this is a loss like losing a brother. And he died a hero.”
Storar said that fallen Deputy Phillip Campas embodies the model of public service and he left an immense impression in his five years with the department. He said this tragedy was a huge loss for the community with emotions really hitting home for the department's SWAT team.
Storar said the KLEA is a labor union that represents deputies within the sheriff's office and they will do everything to be there for law enforcement both emotionally and financially. This comes as twenty-three KCSO deputies are now on administrative leave as a result of the shooting.
If you would like to contribute to the Deputy Phillip Campas Memorial Fund, you can do so on the PORAC Fund a Hero website.