Annual Dan Bessant Run honors slain Oceanside police officer

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The 11th annual Dan Bessant Run, named for an Oceanside police officer gunned down by gang members, was held Wednesday.

The race began at 5 p.m. at the shooting scene at Gold Drive and Arthur Street and proceeded to Oceanside police headquarters on Mission Avenue. Oceanside police said traffic control was conducted along the route, which included North River Road and Douglas Drive.

Bessant, 25, was fatally shot on Dec. 20, 2006, while assisting another officer with a traffic stop. Then-17-year-old gang member Meki Gaono was later convicted of first-degree murder for firing the fatal bullet, which went under the officer's protective vest.

A second teen was also convicted of first-degree murder, and both are serving terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In a 2007 court filing, a prosecutor stated that the defendants had targeted Bessant because he was serving as a neighborhood police officer in charge of instituting tougher enforcement in an area rife with gang violence.

Charges against a third defendant, Jose Compre, were thrown out for insufficient evidence in 2008. Compre, now 27, was rearrested in October last year and his case is still pending in court.

A moment of silence for Bessant, an Oceanside native, was held after the run.

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