Sheriff praises Gonzalez

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2006

‘He can never be replaced, but he will always be remembered’


Managing Editor

LAPLACE — Capt. Octavio &#8220Ox” Gonzalez, 40, was remembered on Monday by St. John Parish Sheriff Wayne L. Jones as an officer whose dedication was &#8220unparalleled.”

&#8220What can we say about him? You never know what will happen. He can never be replaced, but he will always be remembered,” Jones said.

Gonzalez’s funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Metairie, with interment at St. John Memorial Gardens in LaPlace.

Gonzalez, 40, a native of Cuba, began his law enforcement career with the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, taking to undercover drug investigation like a duck to water. Former sheriff Lloyd B. Johnson said he first used Gonzalez as a &#8220loaner” for drug investigations in St. John and eventually hired him in 1992, with the first nine months working undercover.

&#8220We were really hot on drugs,” Johnson recalled. &#8220He made his cases, and he made them iron-clad.”

As Jones succeeded Johnson as sheriff, Gonzalez came to his new boss and pledged he would &#8220never let the department down,” Jones stated.

Through the years of service under Jones’s administration, Gonzalez rose in the ranks, making a mark throughout the department with his professionalism and dedication. This developed into his being named commander of the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation in 1998, leading a six-man squad.

Also, Gonzalez trained with other officers throughout Louisiana and in 2003, Gonzalez helped develop SORT, the Special Operations Response Team, training with fellow St. John officers on a weekly basis and with other agencies on a monthly basis, according to Jones.

Gonzalez had also recently been accepted to the National Police Academy in Quantico, Va., and was scheduled to attend that training in January 2007.

Jones remembered the last conversation he had with Gonzalez, at a crawfish boil, where he joked about Gonzalez wearing a pair of expensive athletic shoes and saying, &#8220You must be doing pretty good, if you can afford those.”

Gonzalez responded that when his son saw them, he wanted a pair as well, and he planned to buy him a pair this week.

Jones also commented on the events of Friday morning, saying Gonzalez had first been called at home to inform him of the shooting of

Detective Monty Adams, and had been on the way to River Parishes Hospital when he decided to look in the neighborhood of the stop on the fugitives and stumbled upon the pair at the corner of Cane and Pampas streets. There, Crystal Lynn Reed, 27, called out to Gonzalez, and claimed to be a robbery victim.

Meanwhile, Johnnie Lee Cheek, 31, circled around other vehicles in the dark and opened fire, shooting Gonzalez in the back three times, killing him. Uncharacteristically, Gonzalez had not been wearing his safety vest.

&#8220We’re going through the 911 tapes to make sure everything was done correctly,” Jones said.

Later that morning, at about 2:30 a.m., Jones and two other deputies had the task of informing Gonzalez’s family. &#8220They could see it in our faces,” he said.

In a later interview, former sheriff Johnson added of Gonzalez, &#8220He was a cop’s cop and a gentleman. He was well-liked by all the department.”

Johnson said Gonzalez was like a son to him, as his voice choked briefly. &#8220We all know the consequences of law enforcement, but we always feel that it would happen to the other fellow.”

He added, &#8220He’ll be greatly missed by the department and by his family. There’s nothing but good to say about him.”

Johnson, who lost two of his own officers to murder, Sherman Walker in 1984 and Barton Granier in 1996, said he knows exactly how Jones feels and expressed his heartfelt sympathy.

The Octavio Gonzalez Memorial Fund has been established at all Capitol One Bank locations for public donations to assist his family.

He leaves his wife, Gloria Breaux Gonzalez, and two sons, Alexander and Bryson Gonzalez, among other relatives.

Gonzalez was a member of Louisiana Tactical Police Officers Association, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, commander of the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and assistant commander of the Special Operations Response Team.