|Three thousand people attended a tearful funeral service Thursday August 21, 1997, for Los Angeles County Deputy Shayne D. York who shot simply because be carried a badge. York, 26, who was shot in the back of the head execution style during a takeover robbery at a Buena Park hair salon Thursday Aug. 14, was eulogized as a hero by Gov. Pete Wilson, sheriff Sherman Block and 24-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy Jennifer Parish, York’s fiancee.
“My memory and love for Shayne will now carry me through this time of sorrow,” said Parish, who was with York at the time of the shooting. “I know that one day Shayne and I will be together again. Then, I will be able to fill the empty place in my heart.”
Wilson blasted York’s accused assailants – identified as two members of a faction of the Crips Street gang – as cowards. He told the mourners, who Packed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Torrance, “Those who kill an unarmed man, a defenseless man offering them no harm, no threat, are simply vicious and viciousness is cowardice.”
“Even in the moment that his life was cut short, Shayne York prevailed,” Gov. Wilson stated. “The cowards did not win. Courage wins, but the pain they’ve caused is unmistakable.”
York was shot when he and his fiancee – both off-duty and unarmed – were at the De’Cut salon in Buena Park when two gunmen stormed in about 9 p.m. While going through York’s wallet, the gunmen found his badge and ordered him to lay face down on the floor, authorities said.
Even though York was polite and posed no threat, one of the robbers shot him in the back of the head, according to police. Although Parish also had her sheriff’s identification, her life was spared, apparently because she was a woman. York was rushed to the Western Medical Center in Santa Ana where he died.
The suspects were arrested several hours later after a witness gave police a good description of the getaway car following a second holdup at a pizza restaurant in Fullerton. Two parolees from state prison were arrested and charged with the shooting. Both Andre Willis, 30, and Kevin Boyce, 27, who is accused of firing the fatal shot, had been serving time on robbery and weapons convictions.
The men are charged with two special circumstances that could result in a death penalty – murder during a robbery and murdering during a burglary. Boyce is also charged with murdering a peace officer who was in the course of doing his duty.
Law enforcement officers from across the state attended the emotional service which served as a bitter reminder that even while off duty, their lives are at risk because of their profession.
Sheriff Block stated, “Never in the 40-plus years I’ve been in law enforcement have I seen this kind of cold-blooded violence directed at a sheriff’s deputy. This was a classic hate crime.” The ashen faced Block said the shooting had badly rattled his vast agency.
York and Parish were both relatively new to the force, in uniform just two years. They met while working together at the Sheriff’s Pitchess Detention Center – East Facility in Castaic and planned to be married in June.
The couple shared one strong bond – both were raised in households where their fathers wore the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s uniform. York’s father retired after 19 years on the force, while Parish’s father is a Lakewood deputy, among the departments 9,000 sworn officers.
Since was eight-years-old, York wanted to be a deputy,” Block said. “Not just a police officer, but a deputy, just like his father.” Concluding his statements, the sheriff said, “Shayne, you died a hero. Rest in peace.”
More than 150 law enforcement units formed a motorcade which followed the hearse carrying York’s body to the Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. Along the route, residents came out of their homes and businesses to watch. Some people waved American flags; other stood silently with their hands placed over their hearts.
Seven Sheriff’s jail buses usually used to transport inmates brought hundreds of sheriff’s deputies, who worked with York as guards at Pitchess East, to his funeral.
York’s family said they were touched by the outpouring of emotion. Brandon York, 24, said he looked up to his older brother. He said he had always considered Shayne is best friend.
“One of my proudest moments was when Shayne called me to tell me he had asked Parish to marry him and that he wanted me to be his best man,” he said. “I used to tell him that since he was born first that he was just a rough draft and that I was the final copy because I was always trying to be just like him.”
Friends and co-workers described York as an amiable man who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Sheriff’s Deputy Jesus Villanueva, who attended the Sheriff’s Academy with York two years ago, said, “He was a real good guy all the way around and I’ll always remember his smile.”
During their time at the academy, some recruits buckled under pressure, but not York. His classmates recalled him always keeping his cool and making the right decisions.
Arthur Thomas said the confidence and positive attitude he showed earned York the nickname “Stealth.” Thomas, who last saw York during a January training seminar, said, “When they say he led by example, he did.”
Deputy Matthew Seier said York’s death was particularly difficult for him and many of his classmates because York was the first graduate from their 89-member class to die in the line-of-duty.
At the jail where York was assigned, he worked as a “prowler,” patrolling in a dormitory in the maximum security section. The tall, well-built deputy was known for keeping calm despite his stressful job.
“He was one of those quiet strong people,” said Michelle Burke, 26, of Anaheim, who said she and York were both reared in the tight-knit community of Frazier Park, just over the Las Angeles County line in Kern County, near Gorman. “He was always there for you. He was a friend to all of us.”
Burke recalled York’s youthful passion for basketball and growing interest in law enforcement while a student at Maricopa High School. “He had no enemies,” she said.
Another longtime friend, Andrea Sramek, 26, of Laguna Hills, said York was “a great leader at everything he did. A lot of parents used Shayne as an example for their children, the kind of person to follow,” Sramek said.
Buena Park Mayor Art Brown said, “It was a cowardly act by cowardly people who shot a person only because he carried a badge of honor to protect the people.”
York is also survived by his mother, Patti Steele, of Colorado; his father, Daniel York, of Atascadero.
One of the two murderers of Deputy Shane York was convicted August 23, 2000 of first-degree murder with special circumstances, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. The trial continued on August 28 for the penalty phase. The killer was given the sentence of the death penalty.
On March 22, 2001, an Orange County jury convicted the second suspect in the Shayne York murder. Andre Willis was sentenced to life. The jury refused to convict him of special circumstances. The shooter, Kevin Boyce, was already convicted and sentenced to death in a previous trial last year.
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