Bell Tower tolls for deputy — hundreds gather for vigil to honor fallen officer
Hundreds gathered in front of the Bell Tower on Main Street in downtown Placerville to honor slain El Dorado County deputy Brian Ishmael Thursday.
Deputy Ishmael was killed while responding to a marijuana theft call in Somerset early Wednesday morning.
“He was a great guy,” said El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini. “I don’t know of any enemies he had. I even had people he arrested come tell me what a great guy he was.”
City councilwoman Patty Borelli spoke on the difficulties of a life in law enforcement, touching on her experience as the grandmother of a Southern California police officer.
“He died doing what he was passionate about and we just have to honor him and make sure that we never forget,” said Borelli, expressing condolences to Ishmael’s family and friends.
A nearly three-minute-long moment of silence followed speeches by D’Agostini, Borelli and Placerville Chief of Police Jim Ortega. In honor of Ishmael, a ringing of the bell from over a dozen of Ishmael’s family members broke the silence.
Law enforcement officials from up and down the hill came in support of Ishmael’s family and to memorialize of the officer. There they found Main Street lined with blue ribbons on each street pole and dozens of folks draped with flags and wearing clothing in support of the law enforcement community.
Thursday’s turnout, which forced the city to shut down car traffic on Main Street, was described as overwhelming by some. Hundreds attended even amidst a power outage and less than 24-hour notice of the event.
“It’s incredible how many people showed up,” said Trevor Jones of Placerville. “It just goes to show how much people around here care about their law enforcement officers. We’re a tight-knit community, for sure.”
Kelly Pipes, another Placerville resident, echoed Jones’ sentiment.
“This is what this community is about,” Pipes said. “Something tragic like this is a reminder of what these officers go through. All of these people showing up today is just us telling them that, yes, we thank you for the sacrifices you make for us.”
Three men are in custody connected to the shooting. A San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputy accompanying Ishmael on a ride-along was shot and subsequently released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The shooting occurred near Sand Ridge and Mt. Aukum roads in Somerset.
Ishmael worked with the sheriff’s department for four years after previously working for the Placerville Police Department.
Ishmael, 37, is survived by his wife, Katie, and three children. A long-time resident of the area, he attended Ponderosa High School.
The sheriff’s office reports fielding many inquiries from people interested in making donations to help out the fallen officer’s family.
The link to make donations to a memorial fund is cahpcu.org/DeputyBrianIshmaelMemorialFund.