Officer Matthew Pavelka, E.O.W. 11-15-2013.
Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka was a Canyon Country resident when he was gunned down near the Burbank Airport in 2003. On Tuesday, July 24, 2012 — nearly nine years later — his killer was finally sentenced to life in prison.
A press release from the Burbank Police Department follows:
On November 15, 2003, Officer Matthew Pavelka was gunned down in a brutal act of violence. The resulting investigation identified David Garcia as the person responsible for Officer Pavelka's murder. After a two-week manhunt, David Garcia was arrested and has remained in custody since his arrest.
The shooting occurred in a Ramada Inn parking lot near Burbank Airport. Officer Greg Campbell was on patrol and saw two men sitting in a car without license plates in an area then known for drug and gang-related activity. Officer Campbell radioed for assistance and Officer Pavelka arrived.
David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, began firing on the officers. Both officers were hit. Pavelka, 26, was killed, and Campbell was seriously wounded. Aranda was killed. Garcia fled and was arrested in Tijuana on Thanksgiving Day 2003 following an extensive manhunt.
David Garcia, charged in the murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell, was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and all other counts in connection with the 2003 killing.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry accepted the plea of Garcia, and imposed the sentence at a hearing this morning. Garcia admitted to the first-degree murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell.
David Garcia also pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of methamphetamine, two counts each of possession of a machine gun and possession of an assault weapon and one count of possession of a silencer.
In addition, Garcia admitted to two special circumstance allegations: the murder victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties; and the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.
Today's sentencing brings to a close a nearly decade long quest for justice for the murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka and the severe wounding of Officer Gregory Campbell.
'Wall of Heroes' unveiled for Burbank's fallen firefighters and police.
Los Angeles Daily News | March 29, 2017.
Photo by Gene Blevins. Click to enlarge.
Nearly 14 years ago, a red-headed Burbank police officer only 10 months behind his badge pulled into a Ramada Inn to investigate what appeared to be a pending SUV drug deal.
Twenty-six-year-old Officer Matthew Pavelka was gunned down by a gang member in November 2003, the first Burbank cop to die in the line of fire in 83 years.
He joined seven Burbank officers and firefighters among a "Burbank's Wall of Heroes" unveiled Wednesday at the Story Tavern for emergency responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
"The brave men and women of the Burbank Police and Fire (departments) are a large reason why Burbank is the great city that we call home," said tavern owner Brian Slaught, who created the memorial. "Every day, they put their lives on the line for this community.
"This Wall is Story Tavern's way of saying, 'thank you.'"
The short afternoon ceremony, attended by a dozen Burbank police and firefighters and the family of the slain Pavelka, heralded 106 years of city valor.
The wall, set beside the front door of a wooded tavern lined with historic photos from Media Capital founder David Burbank to generations of Lockheed aircraft at 150 S. San Fernando Blvd., was modest.
In addition to the fallen police and firefighters, it included six firefighters and one cop recently honored by their departments.
"Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others," it says in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill.
There was Marshal Luther Colson, the first Burbank lawman to take a fatal bullet in 1914, fired from a line of willow trees as he strolled along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, Straught said.
There was Deputy Marshall Robert Normand, who stopped a flivver for a flawed taillight in 1920 and was killed when a man opened a door and gunned him down.
Burbank police officers Joseph Wilson and Richard Kunkle were each killed when their police motorcycles crashed in 1961.
Burbank fire Engineer John Saltisik was killed the same year when his fire truck was T-boned in an intersection and he was thrown from the vehicle. Firefighter/Paramedic Dan Yonan lost his life in 1999 when he had a heart attack while on the job, Slaught said.
Slaught's grandfather, Lt. Hank Hernandez, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, investigated the Los Angeles assassination in 1968 of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.
Another Burbank Wall of Heroes mural was painted five years ago at the Police and Fire Department Headquarters Building.
"As we go on, generation after generation, it's so important that each new generation remember," said Burbank police Chief Scott LaChasse, who had served as an LAPD commander in the North Hollywood bank shootout two decades ago. "To recognize the people that we have lost."
For the Pavelka family – parents Mike and Sue, and aunt Kathy Jackson – it was a momentous day.
Not far away, a section of Interstate 5 has been named in honor of Officer Matthew Pavelka.
"It's wonderful," said Mike Pavelka, of Santa Clarita, a retired LAPD detective of 35 years. "It's now been 13 years since Matthew's death.
"It's always heartwarming to see that he is remembered – and not forgotten."