The 34-year-old California Highway Patrol officer who was fatally shot during a dramatic gun battle off the 215 Freeway in Riverside was honored by his colleagues Wednesday during a solemn bell-tolling ceremony in Sacramento.
The CHP had planned to hold a celebration Wednesday marking the 90th anniversary of the agency, but those plans were canceled following the Monday night death of Officer Andre Moye Jr.
“Officer Moye epitomizes what a CHP officer should always be — a dedicated and selfless public servant,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said during the ceremony outside the agency’s academy. “He will not be forgotten. It is my solemn honor to call the name of the California Highway Patrol’s most recent hero. Andre Moye Jr., I.D. number 21641, Riverside area, end of watch Aug. 12, 2019.”
With that, a bell tolled as CHP officers and recruits saluted.
Moye was assigned to the Riverside office after graduating from the CHP Academy in March 2017. He is survived by his wife Sara, father, mother, stepfather, brothers and sisters.
He was killed in a gunfight that began about 5:35 p.m. Monday in the area of Box Springs Boulevard and Eastridge Avenue, just west of Interstate 215.
Moye, of Moreno Valley, had pulled over a GMC pickup truck for an unknown violation and was preparing to have the vehicle towed when the suspect, 49-year-old Aaron Luther of Beaumont, pulled a weapon from the vehicle and opened fire on the officer, according to CHP Assistant Chief Scott Parker.
Moye was able to make a distress call while under fire, and at least three other CHP officers responded to the scene, as well as Riverside Police Department officers and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies.
The first CHP officers to arrive engaged in a gun battle with Luther, who was fatally shot during the exchange.
Moye was flown by a Riverside police helicopter crew to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he was pronounced dead minutes later. One of his fellow officers was driven to the hospital in a police vehicle, and the other was taken by ambulance, authorities said.
CHP Inland Division Chief Bill Dance said a six-year law enforcement veteran suffered minor leg injuries, while a four-year veteran suffered more serious leg injuries. Dance said Tuesday the more seriously injured officer was “conscious and talking” to doctors. Neither lawman was named. The officer with minor injuries was treated and released from the hospital.
Two bystanders also suffered minor injuries.
The suspect’s father, Dennis Luther, told reporters his son served 10 years in prison for attempted murder, but he was released more than a decade ago.
Dennis Luther said, however, that his son was recently suffering from depression, saying he was having marital troubles and was unable to work because of pain in his knees. He suggested his son may have been trying to commit suicide by cop.
“I think he just, whatever else was going on with his domestic situations and his pain, I think he just thought he didn’t have much to live for, and I think this might have been suicide by the police,” Dennis Luther told KTLA5. “It’s just unfortunate that he happened to hurt anybody but himself.”
The father said he was grieving for the police officer “just as much as we’re grieving for our son.”
“In fact, I said a prayer for the policeman before I did for my son,” he said.
Luther’s wife told Channel 5 her husband was pulled over for a carpool-lane violation, and likely began the gunfight because he was depressed and knew he would be arrested for having the weapon in his truck. Police have said only that Luther was armed with a rifle, but the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that the weapon was an AR-15-style assault weapon.
The Times reported that Aaron Luther was a member of the Vagos motorcycle gang and had a lengthy criminal record dating back to the 1990s.