The Tacoma Police officer who lost his life in the line of duty Wednesday was no stranger to handling domestic violence situations, according to an East Side leader who knew him.
According to East Side resident Lynnette Scheidt, Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez had a knack for handling just the sort of calls that ended in tragedy Wednesday.
Gutierrez, 45, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call in the 400 block of East 52nd Street. Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell said Thursday Gutierrez joined the department in 1999.
A standoff with the suspected shooter lasted nearly 12 hours before he was fatally shot by police Thursday morning.
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Scheidt, who serves as president of the Eastside Neighborhood Advisory Council and the Dometop Neighborhood Alliance, and volunteers at the Tacoma Police Department’s Sector 4 Substation, said she wasn’t surprised Gutierrez had responded to a domestic violence call on Wednesday.
“He went to many, many DV calls. And defused them,” Scheidt said. “I know so many people that would say, ‘Oh, that officer came to my house and made me feel safe again.’ It was usually a DV situation. “
“He was out there in the streets. He knows the people in the streets,” Scheidt continued. “I think that’s why he felt he could deescalate things. He was very soft-spoken. He just talked to people, calmed them down.”
In 2010, a Tacoma city employee newsletter included a commendation of Gutierrez for “diffusing a potential fight at the Eastside Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting.” Scheidt was quoted as saying that the way he “handled the situation was very professional yet the kids knew he understood their situation and all would go to jail if things broke out into a fight.”
Scheidt said she first met Gutierrez in 2006, and that the East Side neighborhood knew him “very well.”
“He came to our neighborhood cleanups. He came to our neighborhood meetings,” Scheidt said. “He took his job way more serious than a lot of people. He got involved with a lot of people.”
“He was totally true to the East Side.”
Of the domestic violence call that took the officer’s life, Scheidt said, “I’m thinking maybe he thought this would be just another one.”
Scheidt is helping to organize a vigil Thursday night at the Tacoma Police Sector 4 substation. It’s scheduled for 5 p.m.
“We’re just asking people to bring candles, and just be present,” Scheidt said. “The community deserves that sense of involvement.”