SSLPD employees return to work after 1st officer death

Local News

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 News) Monday marks another difficult day for South Salt Lake city employees going back to work for the first time since Officer David Romrell’s death in the line of duty.

Flags and blue ribbons mark the police department building near 2800 and Main Street. Many of the tributes were put together by wives of officers who worked with Officer Romrell.

Officer Romrell’s police car was lit up in blue was parked next to a memorial paying tribute to the former marine.

“David was a very loving person a hard-working officer. He got along with everybody,” Officer Chad Leetham said. 

To help the grief-stricken department, West Valley and Unified Police Departments stepped up to cover calls and patrols Sunday into early Monday morning. 

“South Salt Lake officers, especially those close to Dave and knew Dave, were in no condition to come to work. Emotionally, spiritually, and mentally those officers needed time,” Sgt. Matthew Oehler said. 

Others were anxious to get back to work. The 31-year-old’s killing marks the first in the department’s history. There less than a year, he earned the trust and respect of fellow officers.

“He was one of those guys who you loved going on calls with that you loved talking to. He would talk about the newborn baby and his face would just light up,” Officer Leetham said.  

The former family of Felix Calata wrote an open letter to Officer Romrell’s widow and four-month-old child. The Facebook post by Manuel Lopez offers condolences and support.

“An open letter to Mrs. Romrell, from the ex brother and sister in law of the man who killed your husband.

Thanksgiving weekend was winding down for us like most families’. We were together as a family, nieces, nephews, siblings and in-laws! With A lot of laughs, new memories and bellies full of turkey, thanksgiving 2018 was a good time.

Saturday night we went to bed just as any other night, when suddenly the shrieks, screams and cries of our sister tore through our peaceful home. “Felix, is dead!” She screamed! We didn’t know the details yet of what had happened but we knew Felix, had been on a downward spiral for a long time now. We knew he wasn’t the same person who started dating my sister, 12 years ago who was romantic and funny.

After many run ins with the law and let downs, my sister decided to leave her husband and take their two children away to Texas so they’d be safe. She hasn’t heard from him in months and when she got that phone call in the middle of the night her heart broke for her children, Only 6 and 10 years old.

In contrast, soon after we heard about your husband. A good man who has served his country. Who was badly injured and fighting for his life. Immediately, our whole family’s energy focused on your husband and your family. We prayed for his life. That God may spare him from this senseless act. It was to no avail and your husband, a man who had a brand new baby at home, Who, went into work that day just as he did any other day, never came back.

My name is Manuel Alejandro Lopez and David Romrell is my brother in arms. I, too am a marine veteran and it hurt me to see a brother fall in such a way. Without meaning to politicize this ordeal, we want to reach out and let you know, we are with you. We know what Felix, did was inexcusable. His mental illness took over and we never got him back. Felix’s, kids are here in the room as I write this and they are also, innocent lives that have forever been changed. We want you and your baby to know, our sister and our family will make sure to raise them, knowing that your husband, was the “good guy!” Your husband, died a HERO! Our niece and nephew don’t have to know the horrendous things their father has done but they WILL honor your husband.

We are all heartbroken by this and we are hurting too. If there is anything you may need from us to help you find peace, please reach out. Your precious baby doesn’t deserve to be left without a father. We are very sorry for your loss.

As this Thanksgiving weekend wraps up, we hope everyone remains thankful for their families, for our police force and our military!


Claudia & Manuel Lopez

Semper Fi brother Romrell”

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