The Davis Police Department knew that Natalie Corona, 22, was going to be a star. In August, she graduated from the policy academy. And by Christmas, she’d completed her training, and was soon out on her own.
On Thursday, Corona responded to a minor three-vehicle collision — a routine traffic investigation where no injuries were reported.
Then a gunman emerged from the shadows. The man, later identified by authorities as 48-year-old Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, approached Corona on a bicycle and opened fire, Pytel said — shooting the promising officer as he unloaded his entire magazine.
Police say Limbaugh also shot a flurry of bullets toward others, striking a bystander’s backpack and a firefighter in the boot, before fleeing into a home. Officers reported hearing a gunshot and later found Limbaugh dead inside, Pytel said.
No one else was injured in the attack besides Corona, who died at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Chief Darren Pytel called Corona’s killing a “devastating loss for this entire department.”
“I haven’t seen anyone work harder in a part-time capacity and work harder to be a police officer than Natalie,” he said. “She’s just an absolute star in the department and somebody that pretty much every department member pretty much looked to as a close friend and sister.”
Corona joined the Davis Police Department in 2016 as a community service officer — a job she remained excited about even when the department ran out of funding to pay her, Pytel said during a news conference. Her father, a 26-year veteran of the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department, told NBC Bay Area that she rarely discussed anything besides her love for law enforcement.
At her August graduation, a photo captured the young woman’s proud smile as her father, José Merced Corona, pinned on her badge.
“She would always call me ‘brother cop,’ and I would say, ‘you can’t call me ‘brother cop' because you’re not there yet,’ " he recalled to Fox40. “When she graduated from the academy, she says, ‘Okay, so now can I call you “brother cop”?’ And I said, ‘yeah.’”
Her father told Fox40 that he wants people to remember that his daughter died doing what she loved.
“She just enjoyed her job,” José Corona told the outlet.
Her devotion to the department and Davis community was put on display Saturday night, when more than 1,000 mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil in her honor. There, the Sacramento Bee reported, several members of the Davis police force shared anecdotes illustrating Corona’s commitment to helping others.
Officer Kerith Briesenick recalled a time when Corona went out of her way to aid a victim of the Camp Fire in response to a call.
“We went back to that house, knocked on the door, and out of the goodness of her heart, delivered a whole Santa bag full of presents and packages for a fire victim, just on her own,” Briesenick said. “She hadn’t asked anybody about it; she just did it.”
Police told the Bee on Saturday that investigators had recovered a one-paragraph letter they say was written by Limbaugh, found face up in the bed of his rental property. Police also found two semiautomatic handguns not registered to Limbaugh, matching witness descriptions of the firearm the man used to kill Corona, the outlet reported.
The letter, which was signed “Citizen Kevin Limbaugh,” read: “The Davis Police department has been hitting me with ultra sonic waves meant to keep dogs from barking. I notified the press, internal affairs, and even the FBI about it. I am highly sensitive to its affect [sic] on my inner ear. I did my best to appease them, but they have continued for years and I can’t live this way anymore.”
Corona’s father told Fox40 that her family is not angry about her death.
“You know we’re going to grieve, and the individual is not with us any longer, so we’re very faithful people,” he said. “I think she died doing what she loved to do. She knew that was a possibility, and I think she embraced that.”