Our hearts are heavy as we donate $1,000 to the Palm Springs Police Officers Association Memorial Fund in memory of fallen officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny. After responding to a family disturbance call, officers Vega and Zerebny had asked a man to step outside right before he started shooting at them from behind the closed front door. They both died from their injuries.

Officer Vega was due to retire this year after serving for 35 years. He wasn’t scheduled to work on Saturday, but had picked up an overtime shift. A father of 8, he was continuously trying to make the community and department better. When the department needed a training officer, he stepped up.

Officer Zerebny had only been an officer for a year and a half, but she was described as a “wonderful, young, dedicated female officer that pressed forward every day to make it better for everybody else.” She had just returned to work from maternity leave after giving birth to her now 4-month-old daughter.

The loss of these two heroes is a tragedy for the department and the entire law enforcement community.

Update October 2017: Over the past year, NEP, which founded the National 9-99 Police and Sheriff Foundation, helped raise over $450,000 for the PSPOA Memorial Fund. In addition to the $1 million raised within the community, there were substantial funds given to the families and even enough to dedicate a four-mile stretch of highway 111 as the “Police Officer Jose ‘Gil’ Vega and Police Officer Lesley Zerebny Memorial Highway.”