Morgan Haynes had just one more request for Santa Claus – she wanted her daddy back. It’s a wish that won’t come true for the 3-year-old Benicia girl.
Richmond police Officer David T. Haynes, was shot to death along with fellow Officer Leonard W. Garcia at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 28, 1992, half an hour before they were scheduled to go off duty.
“She asked if she could talk to Santa Claus to see if he could bring daddy home from the hospital,” Haynes’ wife, Kyle, said after learning of her husband’s death.
That eventful Monday would have been Haynes’ last day on patrol duty, his wife said. He was scheduled to join Richmond’s detective team, investigating juvenile crime. The 30-year-old leaves behind two children, his daughter and a 1-year-old son.
“I don’t think any of us will ever be the same,” said Leonard Garcia’s brother, Ron. Both officers were shot to death when they tried to intervene in an argument between a distraught man and his ex-wife.
In a scene reminiscent of past arguments with his wife, Jay Choe had arrived at her apartment with a gun, the tool by which he had planned to bring the family together. But this time, he used it, shooting both officers, his wife and their son, before apparently turning the gun on himself. All three men were killed. Choe’s wife and son survived.
Friends and colleagues said the Richmond Police Department had lost two of its best. Both were dedicated officers who got into the business because they wanted to help others.
Garcia, 31, grew up in San Pablo and was last living in Suisun. “He knew what he wanted to do, and he did it with conviction,” Ron Garcia said of his younger brother. “He wanted to be where he thought he could make a difference.”
Garcia had been assigned to the graveyard shift for almost a year. He spent about three years in the narcotics division before that.
“I can speak from the perspective as his boss. He seemed to have a great personality and a good sense of humor,” said Richmond Lt. Ray Howard, commander of the Iron Triangle Community Policing Project and a 20-year veteran of the force.
Haynes was known for his expert work with evidence such as fingerprints. Ironically, he was the officer who took a rifle away from Choe two years ago and booked it as evidence that helped sentence him to a year in jail.
Howard said he was impressed with Haynes’ sense of compassion and religious devotion. A Woodland native, Haynes had attended seminary and completed a one-year mission in Chile, his wife said. Both were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Benicia.
“(Haynes) was truly a nice man. Being a good officer aside, he was just truly a nice man,” Howard said. “He was very religious and thoughtful. He cared about his fellow human beings and wanted the best for everybody, not just those in the department.”
In just a few years on the police force, both men had accumulated numerous commendations from their superiors, said Sgt. Mike Pon.