More than 10,000 people turned out Dec. 7, 1993 to give a fallen police officer the largest hero’s sendoff in Ventura County’s history.
Oxnard Police Detective James Edward O’Brien, 35, was buried with full police honors, including a 21-gun salute by the Los Angeles Police Department’s honor guard.
“That Jim O’Brien gave his life as part of his commitment to public service humbles all of us gathered here today,” said Oxnard Police Chief Harold Hurtt. “He was a person like you and me. He had a family, he had many friends, and he had hopes for the future – all of which were cut short by a mindless act of violence.”
In addition to the 5,000 mourners, another 5,000 people lined streets and freeway bridges along the route of the five-mile-long motorcade that carried O’Brien to his final resting place at Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard.
They were there to celebrate the life of the officer who was shot to death Thursday, Dec. 2, 1993, while pursuing gunman Alan Winterbourne, who had killed three people at the Oxnard employment office.
The Rev. Liam Kidney, who officiated at the funeral Mass, described O’Brien as a “cop’s cop.” “He loved being a cop,” Kidney said. “He loved being where the action was. Being a policeman was his life.”
His widow, Leslie O’Brien, sat stoically through the tributes to her fallen husband. She was flanked by her children, Kathryn Elizabeth, 8, and Sean Patrick, 6.
“His children were the most important,” Kidney said. “He was proud of the children. He also loved his wife, his mother, his brother and his sisters.”
O’Brien’s brother Tom, the football coach at Santa Clara High School, said he had become very close to his brother following the death of their father Thomas, in 1987.
O’Brien was the third officer of the Oxnard Police Department killed in the line of duty since October 1971.
Born July 30, 1958, in Long Beach, O’Brien was a longtime Ventura County resident.
He was awarded the Medal of Valor by the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County in 1991 for saving the life of a resident in La Colonia.
He was a member of the Oxnard Police Officers’ Association, Ventura County Peace Officers’ Association, Peace Officers’ Research Association of California, and California Narcotics’ Officer Association.
O’Brien attended California Lutheran University and was a graduate of Ventura College and Hueneme High School.
The Bank of A. Levy and the Channel Islands National Bank are both accepting money for the Jim E. O’Brien Memorial Trust Fund. The money for the memorial fund will be used to support some of the projects O’Brien worked hard on such as keeping children out of gangs and fighting graffiti.
Another trust fund for O’Brien’s wife and two young children is being administered by the Channel Islands National Bank in Oxnard.