OAKLAND — The mood was somber at the Oakland police headquarters Saturday evening as city officials and leaders of the force gathered to talk to the media about the day's tragic events.
"We come together in shock, grief, sadness and sorrow," said a visibly shaken Mayor Ron Dellums.
"Our hearts go out the families," of the slain officers, he said "These officers left their homes tonight expecting to return but they did not. "
The police department's acting head sought to reassure the city — its officers were "doing a very good job of policing the city despite this tragic loss," said Howard Jordan, who took the job of acting police chief a few weeks ago.
"It is very unique and unusual to be in this position," he said. "This is not something I expected to do in my career at all."
But officers are resilient, he said. "We are a big family and we're relying on each other for support."
The speakers could only repeat the words of support for the officers and condolences for the families of the slain and wounded officers. The men "lost their lives in the line of duty," said department spokesman Jeff Thomason, an officer.
As the officials spoke, a traffic officer cried while being consoled by colleagues.
"This is unbelievable," said City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente. "The officers were just doing their jobs to protect their community. ... They went in that building and paid the ultimate price. All of us are mourning."
There had been reports that passers-by taunted the investigating officers. "Sometimes, it is easier to criticize than to support our police officers. We should be thankful for the work they do every single day," he said.
The suspect in the officers' slayings was a recent parolee and state Attorney General and former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown commented privately on the difficulty of keeping track of them.
"The whole system needs to be revised. I know we're in the middle of cutbacks, but thousands of people are let out every month," he said.
Officers at the nearby Oakland Police Officers Association headquarters cordoned off the building and blocked parts of the street, permitting only officers, friends and relatives to come inside. They could be seen consoling one another outside.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his sorrow in a prepared statement.
"This is a tragic day for law enforcement officers everywhere. All four officers dedicated their lives to public safety and selflessly worked to protect the people of Oakland. Maria and I join the Bay Area in remembering their service and honoring their sacrifice."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost, the Oakland Police Department and law enforcement officers throughout California during this difficult time."
In honor of the officers, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff, he said.