Montebello, CA – Montebello Police Officer Kenneth Utsinger died on Sunday morning, after he was fatally shot with his own weapon while inside the department’s locker room.
Officer Utsinger, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene just before 5:15 a.m., the Whittier Daily News reported.
Investigators said they believe the officer was alone when his weapon discharged, according to KABC.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has not yet determined whether Officer Utsinger’s death was accidental or a suicide, the Whittier Daily News reported.
“The Montebello Police Department mourns the tragic and untimely death of one of our officers,” department announced on Sunday, before Officer Utsinger’s name had been released. “We ask that you keep our department and the family of the officer in your thoughts and prayers.”
Officer Utsinger joined the Montebello Police Department (MPD) after serving as a corrections officer in the State of Oklahoma for 11 years, Montebello Police Chief Brad Keller said in a press release on Monday.
“Kenneth said his lifelong dream was to be a police officer and after working in corrections for 11 years he was looking forward to being on the streets; if, as he put it, he could make it through the academy; since he was a ‘little older’ than most,” Chief Keller recounted.
“After his command oral I wrote one comment, ‘well done and humble,’” the chief noted.
Officer Utsinger entered the Rio Hondo Police Academy in July of 2018, the Whittier Daily News reported.
While there, his peers selected him as the “most inspirational recruit,” Chief Keller said.
He was sworn in as an MPD officer on Jan. 23.
“We can never prepare for losing someone so unexpectedly and we can certainly never understand why someone with so much potential and passion for public service would leave us too soon,” Chief Keller continued. “We can ask why, only to never really ever get a true answer, since the person who holds that answer is no longer with us.”
Officer Utsinger leaves behind his wife, Heather, as well as his sister-in-law, Amanda, and his two rescue dogs.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Montebello Police Officer Kenneth Utsinger, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.