Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN / AGGIE
Shooter identified after ambush that killed 22-year-old officer Natalie Corona
The gunman who killed 22-year-old police officer Natalie Corona was identified on Saturday, Jan. 12 as 48-year-old Kevin Douglas Limbaugh. Court documents show that Limbaugh had a prior conviction in a battery case and was forced to relinquish his semiautomatic rifle on Nov. 9, 2018. The Davis Police Department said it had prior contact with Limbaugh, as he reported being a victim of a crime. However, prior contact did not indicate plans to shoot Officer Corona.
Although his motive for killing Corona was originally unknown, the Davis PD later described the situation as an ambush. Police released a one-paragraph letter Limbaugh wrote before his suicide that read: “The Davis Police department has been hitting me with ultra sonic waves meant to keep dogs from barking. I notified the press, internal affairs, and even the FBI about it. I am highly sensitive to its affect (sic) on my inner ear. I did my best to appease them, but they have continued for years and I can’t live this way anymore,” according to The Sacramento Bee. The typed statement was signed “Citizen Kevin Limbaugh.”
Beyond the battery conviction, Limbaugh didn’t have other prior criminal charges and had no indication of mental health concerns. Limbaugh’s roommate, who wishes to remain unnamed, said that Limbaugh led a “troubled life.” Limbaugh worked at Cache Creek Casino Resort, but was fired after an altercation around Sept. 20, 2018 that led him to receive his battery conviction.
Officer Corona was in the street in between two vehicles involved in a three-car collision, and likely unable to see the suspect when he rode up on bicycle in the shadows of the sidewalk and opened fire, according to witness reports. Corona was shot once in the neck and immediately went down. The gunman then proceeded to shoot at her several more times. After he expended all of his bullets, Limbaugh unloaded the magazine at least twice more to reload, firing multiple shots in other directions. He started toward one of the fire rescue squads that had also reported to the scene of the collision, striking the boot of a firefighter who had taken flight. The bullet, however, did not penetrate the boot, and the firefighter was unharmed. A fire truck was hit several times, along with a nearby house. Another round was later discovered by a person carrying a backpack while putting items into the trunk of her car, as the bullet had gone through several items and lodged itself in a textbook.
The suspect fled the scene and headed southbound on C Street toward Third Street — it appeared that he circled the block and ended up going toward E Street to his rental residence at 501 E Street. He then met with his roommate who was unaware of what had happened because he didn’t show any signs that he had been involved with the incident. One of the witnesses at the scene of the car collision saw the suspect drop a backpack, which was how the Davis PD got information regarding the identity and location of the suspect. The gunman talked to his roommate and stayed outside for a while until he saw law enforcement start to gather at his residence, at which point he went inside. Law enforcement gave him commands to come out, and at one point he did.
“It appeared to the officers that he was wearing a ballistic vest — otherwise a bullet-proof vest,” said Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel. “He did not appear to be armed at that time. He shot at some stuff, went back in and ended out coming out again and wearing a vest and having a firearm. At that point, he went back inside the residence.”
The gunman had two semiautomatic pistols in his possession, although it is unknown how he obtained them, seeing as he had surrendered his semiautomatic rifle a couple months prior and didn’t have other registered guns. The suspect used a deadbolt and pushed a couch in front of the door to create a barricade, making it harder for police to infiltrate the residence. Not wanting to risk sending in any personnel, however, a robot with a camera was sent to assess the situation. A gunshot was heard from inside the residence, and the robot camera showed the dead suspect lying on the floor.
“It was clear at that point also that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Lieutenant Paul Doroshov, the public information officer for the Davis PD.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The roommate had been evacuated earlier, and no law enforcement officers fired any weapons or used any force throughout the night. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department took over the case, and many other agencies were present throughout the manhunt.
“Any time you have a situation of this magnitude, pretty much every law enforcement agency you can think of shows up and they volunteer and do whatever they can,” Pytel said.
California Highway Patrol volunteered an entire major collision team to take care of the scene around the accident, while the California Department of Justice handled the scene at the residence.
No one was injured during the incident other than Corona, who was fatally shot while returning a driver’s license to one of the motorists involved in the collision. Corona was 22-years-old and was sworn in to the Davis PD approximately two weeks prior to her death. She started at the police department as a part-time employee in 2016 when she was a junior college student.
“We had just gotten authorization from the city council to hire temporary part-time employees, pay their college tuition for two years and then hopefully bring them on and put them through the police academy and hire them,” Pytel said. “So, [Corona] was our very first person that we hired in this program.”
On Saturday, volunteers tied blue ribbons to trees and posts in downtown Davis, and many brought flowers, cards, teddy bears and signs to both the Davis PD and the site at which she was killed. A candlelight vigil was also held in Central Park to remember Corona and thank her for her service. Over a thousand people were in attendance, and many were deeply affected by her loss. Attendees spoke of how well-rounded and dedicated she was. Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry recounted an officer who told her that “this rookie [Corona] would have been the chief someday.”
Noelle Candelaria, a second-year human development major at UC Davis, had just met Corona on campus at work the morning she was shot. Although their interaction was very brief, Candelaria noted how sweet and genuine Corona was.
“She told me she was a student not that long ago and had a huge smile on her face as she offered to open the door,” Candelaria said. “She seemed very energetic, fun personality.”
The Davis PD was also in shock at Corona’s recent death. Officers gathered at a meeting, recounting stories about her and how memorable of an individual she was.
“I can tell you that this has been just absolutely devastating to the Davis Police Department,” Pytel said. “What really hits us with [Corona] is that she started off as a temporary part-time employee, but she had a personality that was just energizing. And it didn’t matter who it was in the police department — didn’t matter whether they were janitors that take care of the building for us or me, the police chief, and everybody in between, sworn, non-sworn, men, women, everybody in the department — she was the most friendly, outgoing and just wanted to be everybody’s friend and was. And truly, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with anybody quite like her that has just been able to make so many friends and leave so many impressions with so many people.”
Written by: Kaelyn Tuermer-Lee — firstname.lastname@example.org