Skip to content Skip to navigation

Close Encounters

April 1, 2017

You may not have known Officer Lesley Zerebny or Officer Jose Gilbert Vega but they were members of the Palm Springs Police Department and were both killed in the line of duty on October 8, 2016.

They had responded to a domestic violence call and were asking the subject of interest to step outside, away from the doorway of his residence, when he suddenly pulled out an assault rifle with an extended clip and killed both officers. The suspect was an admitted gang member who had just been paroled after serving time in state prison for an earlier assault with a deadly weapon charge. 

Officer Zerebny, 27, was a new Mom with a 4-month old baby.

Officer Vega, 63, had only 2 months left to serve before he would retire.

There were a total of 10 incidents like this in California during 2016, where police officers were killed in the line of duty. All of these officers who made the supreme sacrifice while serving will be honored in Sacramento on Monday, May 8, 2017. There will be a private service with the families inside the State House followed by a procession and ceremony near the Fallen Officer Memorial directly outside.

Officers attending this service will line both sides of the walkway where the families representative of each of the officers will pass. It is an extremely emotional, and yet, touching occasion where they will be able to see the members of their extended family of law enforcement officers in a standing escort honoring the sacrifice their loved ones made.

The San Francisco Police Department had, for many years, the greatest showing of officers present for this service. More than any other agency. The officers attending worked midnights, days, swing shift and had to make adjustments to their schedules, arrange for child care, do whatever they had to do, but they showed up.

This year we want to reaffirm our commitment to attending this event more than ever before. And that’s because we have several members we’ve lost over the years and their names are also inscribed on the Memorial Wall. So it’s only fitting that we take at least 1 day out of the year to honor their sacrifice with the largest contingent of San Francisco Police Department officers ever.

We’re certain that several of the 10 officers slain last year made the same trip to Sacramento while they were alive . . . it’s your turn now.


The driver of the car that was stopped by Officer Meighan Lyons and Officer Michael Hill Jr. for a minor traffic violation had a suspended license and was on federal probation for firearms-related offenses. Not a bad resume so far for someone who wants to devote his life to crime. So why not also leave your fully-loaded, semi-automatic weapon on the front seat of the car just in case you get stopped by police officers. He’ll have plenty of time to question the choices he made while in prison.


Officer Ricardo Santiago and Officer Ramon Reynoso were on patrol when they came upon a parked vehicle that was wanted by the Major Crime Investigative Unit of the Santa Clara Police Department. Further investigation revealed that the driver of the car had dragged an officer who was attempting to take him into custody for other offenses, placing that officer’s life in extreme danger. The driver was now sleeping in the vehicle.

Sergeant Luis Oliva, Sergeant Daniel Silver and other units from Bayview responded to assist immediately. Once they had him corralled the officers woke the suspect. Even though he was blocked in, he still tried to escape by ramming the police cars surrounding his escape path. Sergeant Silver realized that this individual had a total disregard for authority and human live and needed to be stopped so he utilized the necessary intervention technique to accomplish this task.

This subject still resisted arrest but was finally taken into custody. 

(Also assisting in this investigation: Sergeant Mark Margreiter, Officer DeShawn Wright Officer Chase McKay, Officer Lars Nelson and Officer Edward Zeltser)


Nothing like shots being fired in your neighborhood at all hours of the day and night to put people in fear for their lives. And that is exactly why Officer Christopher Leong, Officer Paul Wilgus, and Officer Louis Hargreaves were on patrol in the Bayview community. There had been an earlier shooting in the area of Kirkwood Avenue and Dormitory Street so the officers were directing their efforts in that vicinity. They located a parked and occupied van that attracted their attention and, after initial contact with the subject sitting in the driver’s seat they had sufficient justification for searching the vehicle. Sure enough, they located a loaded, 9mm semi-automatic weapon in the front console and, after submitting the gun for a match with the bullet casings found from the earlier shooting, the officers found that they were fired from the same weapon recovered.

But that was 2/13/17. Only 1 week later, the same officers were, once again, in the area of Kirkwood Avenue when they saw another parked vehicle that attracted their attention, so they decided to investigate.

This car was occupied by individuals known to the officers to associate with local gangs. The officers developed sufficient cause to conduct a search of the car and this time located not 1 but 2 loaded handguns within reach of those individuals being detained. Also recovered was a large amount of narcotics packaged for sale and several ski masks . . .

Officer Leong, Officer Wilgus and Officer Hargreaves certainly kept Sergeant Sean Griffin busy as the good sergeant wrote up several commendations for them citing, “The officers’ attention to detail and proactive police work led them to armed and dangerous suspects who they apprehended without incident. I believe the actions taken by these officers have made the Bayview District and the City of San Francisco safer.”


See you in Sacramento - but until then, stay safe.