A steady stream of mourners left flowers, candles and messages on Saturday, Jan. 14, outside a tiny restaurant on Washington Avenue in downtown Murrieta a day after Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Darnell Calhoun Jr. was slain when he arrived at a domestic disturbance call near Lake Elsinore.
Darnell Calhoun Sr. would beam whenever he’d talk about his son – the police officer – while serving customers at Calhoun Family Texas Barbeque.
“He was so excited about his son’s career,” said Al Bennett, 59, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. “His son wanted to help people and protect people.”
“He said he was so proud of him and that this is what he wanted to do,” said Al’s wife Jennifer Bennett, 46.
Many of the people who turned out as rain began to fall are longtime customers of the restaurant. The Calhouns prepare a set amount each day, and when they run out, that’s it.
Calhoun Jr. grew up in Murrieta and was homeschooled.
Some mourners remember Deputy Calhoun serving them in the restaurant, which has a sign inside that reads, “There will be a $5 charge for whining.”
A memorial also sprung up outside the Riverside County Sheriff’s station in Lake Elsinore, where Calhoun had been assigned.
Back at the restaurant, patrons described the family as generous, kind and God-fearing. The eatery is closed on Sundays.
“They’re a beautiful family. They’re just so giving,” said Lori Robles, whose son Connor used to work there.
Calhoun Jr. was “very kind, very warm, a genuine good heart.”
Jill Harwood, 55, would cater food from the restaurant for large gatherings.
“I was devastated when I heard the news,” she said.
Around 11:30 a.m., family friends, including the restaurant’s bookkeeper, loaded many of the flowers and plants into a black, double cab pickup to bring to the family. Someone affixed a whiteboard to a window outside the closed restaurant and placed a bucket of permanent markers that well-wishers used to write messages.
“May God bless your family & friends. He’s in the presence of the Lord!” said one.
Said another: “Thank you for your service. Fly high with the Angels. God bless your family.”
Lake Elsinore man, 42, is accused of shooting and killing Riverside County deputy