As part of the statewide flood of support for slain California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered Thursday in West Sacramento for a bell-ringing ceremony to honor their fallen brother.
Youngstrom died at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday after being taken off life support at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he had been listed in critical condition following a Tuesday morning shooting on Interstate 680 in Alamo, according to CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.
Flanked by hundreds of uniformed CHP officers, cadets and other employees, Youngstrom's wife, parents and children looked on at the CHP Academy as his name was read and the knelling of a memorial bell rang out across the quad.
The 5 p.m. ceremony was part of a tradition that began several years ago in which the bell is tolled at the end of the first business day after an officer is killed in the line of duty, and is a way for employees to honor the officer's sacrifice and pay their respects, said Fran Clader, CHP director of communications.
About 210 cadets stood at attention at the right side of the quad while other employees flanked the left. The "tans," sworn CHP officers, stood facing the bell and memorial fountain between the two groups, inscribed with the names of the 222 CHP officers who went before Youngstrom in making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
In a final act of self-sacrifice, the 37-year-old father of four had made prior arrangements to donate his organs -- a move that officials say could save the lives of eight individuals and benefit dozens of others.
Officials announced Youngstrom's passing during a candlelight vigil held at a park near the officer's Cordelia home, which was followed by an official statement by Farrow confirming the death of the seven-year veteran who he remembered as "very well spoken," "very nice," and "very loyal to the organization."
Following his death, which sent shock waves through the close-knit Cordelia community and extended law enforcement family, outpourings of support have been seen across the state, reaching even to the state Capitol, where flags were flown at half staff.
In a statement issued Thursday, Gov. Gerry Brown expressed his deep condolences to Youngstrom's family, friends and colleagues as they mourn the loss of a man recalled as a "dedicated officer, father, husband, veteran and friend."
"Officer Youngstrom died protecting the community he served, and we are grateful to him for that," Brown said. "We will always remember his courage, commitment and service."
Attorney General Kamala Harris also expressed her condolences to Youngstrom's family.
"He gave his life to protect the public and the people of California will always remember and honor this sacrifice," she stated.
Those who knew Youngstrom recall him as a man known for his love of God, love for family and love for his job.
"He radiated joy and genuine care for all around him. His service and dedication were unwavering," officials said.
Youngstrom is survived by his wife, Karen; two sons and two daughters; parents, Gaylord and Jill Youngstrom of Riverside; four brothers and a sister.
"This tragedy is life-altering for his family whom he cherished, and is a tragedy that has affected us all deeply to the core," the CHP said. "His family remains strong, united and courageous. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."
A memorial fund has been set up through Wells Fargo Bank, and donations for the family can be made at any branch through the Officer Kenyon Youngstrom Memorial fund.
An account has also been established at Mechanics Bank for the benefit of Youngstrom's family. Checks should be made payable to "For Benefit of Officer Kenyon Youngstrom."
Information regarding memorial services will be provided later.
Follow Catherine Bowen at Twitter.com/cbowen4.