Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies and their K-9’s hit the streets for a memorial ride Tuesday in honor of fallen K-9 officer, Sultan. They escorted Deputy Mark Wallace, Sultan’s former handler, across San Jacinto with the K-9’s ashes.
They drove to eight San Jacinto Unified School District campuses where thousands of students lined their playgrounds and fences to wave to deputies and cheer for the fallen hero.
“We love you. Thank you. Rest in peace,” said 13-year-old Christina Williams.
“My three kids were out there with their signs they made at school. I got a little teary eyed,” said parent Marjorie Coltharp.
Just hours after visiting De Anza Elementary school, Sultan was shot in the line of duty in Hemet by 36-year-old Todd Hodge Jan. 21. Eight hours later, deputies shot and killed Hodge when he pointed a gun at them.
Students thanked Sultan for his bravery.
“What happened to him was a true tragedy. He worked really hard for the police department. We just wanted to show our respect,” said Williams.
“Many of our students knew about the situation. Sultan visited a lot schools in the district, we just thought it was important for them to say goodbye,” said principal Dr. Karen Kirschinger at North Mountain Middle School.
While the students said their final goodbyes, deputies prepare to say theirs.
“My heart goes out to them. It’s just heartbreaking. Hopefully they can move forward,” said Kirschinger.
“This is something that hits close to us. My brother’s out there with his K-9 partner. It’s just really hard to have this happen to our community.”
The department said the memorial ride was Wallace’s wish to help him and students cope with the loss.
A public memorial service is planned for the Sultan Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at the War Dog Memorial at March Field Air Museum, 22550 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside.