The St. Pius Catholic Church was filled to overflowing Tuesday, Oct. 30, as hundreds of police officers and mourners honored San Jose Police Department’s Officer Jeffrey Michael Fontana. He was shot and killed Sunday, Oct. 28, during what police believe started as a routine traffic stop.
Traffic around the church slowed to a crawl as ranks of officers lined up on foot, on horseback, and on motorcycles to pay their respects.
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and San Jose Police Chief William Lansdowne were among those speaking at the service.
Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and the entire 49ers team and current management were also in attendance. Fontana worked with the team as an accountant for five years before leaving to pursue his dream of being a police officer.
Investigators believe the suspect in the incident, DeShawn Campbell, must have quickly turned and fired on Fontana after he was cornered on a cul-de-sac. Neighbors, who heard gunfire, found the officer about 10 feet from the suspect’s car, his weapon still in its holster.
Residents who live on the street of well-kept relatively new homes near Lake Almaden said there had been a recent string of car break-ins in their normally tranquil neighborhood. Fontana had been patrolling the area alone for two weeks.
Sgt. Steve Dixon said, “We don’t know for sure what happened. He (Campbell) had two felony warrants out for his arrest, and once he was stopped by the officer, he didn’t want to go to jail.”
Police said Campbell has a long criminal history which includes outstanding felony warrants for attacking police officers during a June arrest for credit card fraud and violating probation on a 1999 burglary conviction.
Referring to Fontana Assistant Chief Tom Wheatley stated, “From everyone’s estimation he was a good, young police officer that loved to be a cop and wanted to be a cop. He was out on his own doing the things all cops want to do all their lives.”
Fontana, 24, had volunteered for the Oakridge Community Police Center before joining the force a year ago. He recently completed a customary 16-week training program before assuming solo patrol. He graduated fifth in a class of 39 from the Police Academy. A Woodside High graduate and San Jose State honors student, Fontana was described as an enthusiastic and hard-working young man who loved country music, deer-hunting, football and his family. He graduated from San Jose State with a B.S. in Administrative Justice. His 10-year goal was to be a sergeant in the Detective Bureau.
Speakers described Fontana as a “fallen hero,” and spoke of the sense of duty that motivated him and others like him who risk their lives to protect the public.
Lockyer told the audience, “Every day, someone like Jeffrey makes a stop that places his life in danger. Every day someone runs into a burning building. That sense of purpose matters.”
Crystal Littleton had the last words when she told the crowd, tearfully, that Fontana had been “the kind of man you want your sons to be and the kind of man you want your daughter to marry.”
Fontana is the first San Jose police officer slain by gunfire since a 1989 downtown shootout that left two officers dead.
Close friends and family members attended a private interment following the service. His parents, Tony and Sandy Fontana, and brothers, Jason and Greg, also survive Fontana.
Donations may be sent to: San Jose State University Foundation, Jeffrey Fontana Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o The Administration of Justice Department, San Jose State University, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0050.