That text said he was alive, but hinted there were circumstances that were definitely not good. My heart sank as I called back. Through heavy breathing and tears all he could say was, “I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK…” Detective Bowen took the phone. “Scott is physically OK, but mentally he’s not. We are sending someone to get you.”
My heart knew something was very wrong, but knew I wouldn’t get any information until I was at the station. I called my mom for help with the kids and turned on the TV. There it was…“Officer shot at local motel.” No names had been released of course, but without confirmation I knew it had to be Danny.
Oct 24, 2014 was a day that caused our world to be turned upside down. Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver was killed, who was our friend and Scott’s partner. I also came very close to losing Scott as well. While at the Detective Station, we learned the “evildoer” had gone on a day-long rampage, shot a civilian in the face in an attempt to carjack him, led police in a citywide manhunt and pursuit as well as killed Placer County Sheriff Detective Michael Davis.
It was such a mix of confusing emotions. On one hand I was grateful that Scott’s life had been spared—that our three boys would have their father to grow up with. On the other hand, we were completely devastated that we lost Danny. My friend lost her husband and his two daughters lost their father. He was more than a co-worker/partner to us; he was part of our family. He was a mentor to Scott and an uncle to our boys. Our families had gone camping a few weeks prior and put down a deposit for a couple’s cruise the next year. How could I be so happy and sad at the same time? It is an emotional struggle I continue to deal with today.
A few months later we heard about the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) Organization from the Oliver Family. Not only do they support survivor families, but there’s a place for surviving co-workers too. I called Tami of NorCal COPS and cried out, “We need you!” At Police Week 2015 in Washington DC we learned there were breakout sessions for Scott as a co-worker and I as a surviving co-worker’s spouse. We attended the debriefs without hesitation. We were desperate to find others who related to our situation that could help in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We needed those who could understand at a different level without having to say the words.
Susan Oliver attended COPS’ Kids Camp a few months later. She insisted Scott and I attend the Co-Workers & Spouse Retreat in August. It was the first year that COPS put together a retreat that included spouses. We are so grateful we listened. Attending that first year in 2015 is one of the biggest steps we have taken on our road to recovery. We met others in the same boat. We got each other. It was eye-opening how much we needed each other. For spouses it was the first time anyone had asked, “Where were you when you first got the news?” and, “How are you doing now?”
We returned in 2016 and strengthened the relationships from the year prior. Having this support system was not only appreciated but needed. In the days that have passed since, we’ve added others to our COPS Family. We’ve come alongside other survivors, from our department and other nearby departments. This is a family no one wants to belong to, but so very grateful to have.
On this, the five-year anniversary of Danny and Michael’s death, I am beyond grateful for the COPS organization, other survivors we’ve come to know and love, and those we do life with since. We lost our beloved Danny, but we’ve also gained so many amazing relationships. And for that, I am truly grateful.