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June 2005 SGV Tribune Pompei Article - 10yrs ago PDF Print E-mail

June 2005 SGV Tribune Article
Vigil held for Glendora police officer slain 10 years ago

By Shirley Hsu, Staff Writer

Police officers like to joke that Louis Pompei started the Glendora Police Department's first canine unit.
His beloved Doberman pinscher, Dios, rode everywhere with him, although he wasn't an official police dog.

When Dios swallowed a rubber ball, Pompei took him to the vet for surgery, later keeping the ball in a jar on his desk.

And it was 10 years ago that Pompei went to a Vons in San Dimas to cash his paycheck and pick up dog food for his pet.

He never made it home.

The 30-year-old off-duty narcotics agent was standing in a checkout line when he saw a box boy being pistol-whipped. When he tried to help, two robbers shot him in the chest, leg and abdomen, as he traded fire, wounding both. Pompei died two hours later at San Dimas Community Hospital.

His death unleashed a torrent of grief among police officers and community members, who raised money to erect a memorial to Pompei near the spot where he was killed.

Ten years later, the faithful still gather at the memorial every June 9 to remember the man with "a great big smile and a warm, heartfelt handshake," said retired Glendora police Chief Paul Butler.

"It's kind of surreal," said Glendora police Sgt. Virgil Weber, who knew Pompei. "It's been 10 years since he was killed, and a lot of the new officers didn't know him. But it burns deep in our men."

A child named after Pompei, Nicholas Louis Castro, is now 8. The son of police Captain Robert Castro, Nicholas on Thursday held a bouquet of balloons inscribed with messages to Louie.

Some officers have passed on, while others have left the profession.

Butler, 57, was one of the last people to talk with Pompei as he lay dying.

"I said, Louie, you did a great job. You got both of them, and we caught them. We got the bad guys, you did good," he remembers saying. The two robbers, ages 16 and 17 at the time of the crime, were sentenced to life in prison without parole and the getaway driver was sentenced to 26 years to life.

Others have never been able to let go.

Pompei's fiancee, Tracey Taylor-Careaga, is now a nurse living in Malibu. The pain of her loss has subsided over the last decade, but will never disappear.

"If I died right now and went to heaven, the best part would be that I would be with Louie," she said.

She has never married.

"I think she was trying to find someone like Louie, and she never will," said Carole Steward, Taylor-Careaga's mother.

After Pompei was killed, faithful Dios waited at the door every day at 5 p.m. for him to come home. His fur fell out, Taylor-Careaga recalled. The dog Pompei loved to wrestle with lived to be 15, and in his last years, he could barely walk, let alone wrestle.

Finally, two years ago, Dios died, just before midnight on June 8 - a day before the anniversary of Pompei's death.

"I think he was trying to hang on," Taylor-Careaga said. "Now, Louie's got a playmate."

-- - Shirley Hsu can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306, or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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