More than 4,500 relatives, friends, law enforcement officers and government officials turned out in Downey to honor slain Los Angeles County Deputy Stephen W. Blair.
Among those attending the service at Calvary Chapel were Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block, District Attorney Gil Garcetti, at least 30 chiefs of police from throughout California, and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Lynwood City Council.
After the service, Blair’s body was escorted to Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier by a motorcade of 300 law enforcement motorcycles and 500 patrol cars. At the request of Blair’s fellow officers at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Century Station, thousands of Southern California motorists drove with their headlights on all day May 18 to show support for law enforcement.
Blair, 31, was shot to death May 12, 1995, after he and his partner got out of their patrol car at a park in Lynwood to question suspected gang members, one of who was seen tossing away what later was found to be a loaded pistol.
Two days later, one suspect in the shooting surrendered to deputies in Lynwood. He was cleared in the shooting. The day of the funeral, Gov. Pete Wilson announced the addition of $100,000 to the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Blair’s killer.
The men and women Blair worked with at the Century Sheriff’s Station in Lynwood remembered him for his steadiness, his sensitivity and the rapport he established with almost everyone in town, gang members and law-abiding citizens alike. He was our community cop. This guy had fallen in love with the city” said Lynwood Councilman Armando Rea, also a deputy.
Blair’s first field assignment, after the obligatory new deputy’s stint working the jail, was in Lynwood. Seven years later, after earning the trust and respect of a diverse community, he was the contact person for neighborhood watch groups. Then, little more than a week before his death, he was given a choice assignment: new duty on the sheriff’s gang enforcement team operating out of the Lakewood Station.
When Blair received his new assignment, he told his mother, who still lives in his boyhood home in Pico Rivera, that she should be happy because he was moving to a safer job, recounted Sheriff Sherman Block. “[Blair’s] mother said to me that not too long ago he had told her that ‘If anything ever happens to me, you can take comfort in knowing that I was doing what I wanted to do.”‘
Blair attended St. John Bosco High School and was a sheriff’s Explorer Scout for one year before joining the sheriff’s department in 1985. He married a Lynwood paramedic, Dana, last December.
In addition to his wife, Stephen Blair is survived by three sons from a previous marriage: Stephen, 11; Joseph, 6; and Michael, 5.
A trust fund has been set up for Blair’s sons. Contributions may be sent to Sheriff’s Relief Foundation, 11515 Colima Road, Whittier, CA 90604.