On one of Sacramento police’s worst days, one dispatcher was at work when he didn’t have to be.
The dispatcher – who the police department did not name – had been offered Wednesday night off because his trainee was sick. But he went in and did his job anyway, the department said.
That night, 26-year-old Tara O’Sullivan, who had just graduated from the police academy and was soon scheduled to hit the streets on her own was gunned down while responding to a disturbance call.
“He is a seasoned dispatcher, the best of the best, and hearing those two words, officer down, is every dispatcher’s worst nightmare,” the department posted on Facebook.
O’Sullivan was shot multiple times after a gunman opened fire with what appeared to be a high-powered rifle. She lay on the ground bleeding for more than 45 minutes as the suspect blasted every time he saw movement. Officers couldn’t get to her as long as the gunman was firing.
On the line, hearing the scene play out was the dispatcher.
“He handled the channel, under extreme conditions, and maintained the calm,” the department said. “Saying we are proud of him does not do him justice.”
But an experience like that is never easy. In the wake of such incidents, police said, Front Street Shelter brings in shelter dogs as therapy dogs.
“So to make a long story short, we would like you to meet ‘Sullivan,’ Sully, for short, and he was adopted by the dispatcher that worked the channel the night we lost Tara,” the department said, calling the news a “little bit of light in the darkness.”
“We like to think they rescued each other.”
CNN’s Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.