SAN DIEGO -- For the first time since he was injured in a shooting that killed his partner, San Diego Police Officer Wade Irwin spoke to the public Wednesday.
Holding back tears, Irwin said his partner was one of the greatest men he’s ever known.
"J.D. was a great police officer but an even better man. I truly believe if it wasn’t for J.D., I wouldn’t be here today. To the De Guzman family, thank you for sharing J.D. with us," he said in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Regional Law Enforcement Memorial downtown.
Families gathered outside of the County Administration Center for the 33rd annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony where this year, the name of De Guzman was etched into stone. His family took a moment of silence to grieve in front of the wall.
Last July, Irwin and De Guzman approached a gang member who started shooting without warning. Irwin was hit first in the neck, then De Guzman was shot four times and died from his injuries.
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman knew De Guzman personally. He was a rookie when she was a lieutenant, working together at the Midcity Division.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with this family,” she said.
The San Diego Police Department plans to hold their own separate memorial Thursday.