WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bells tolled Wednesday during a solemn California Highway Patrol ceremony for an officer killed this week when a motorist he pulled over grabbed a rifle and opened fire during a traffic stop.
The bell toll tribute ceremony for Andre Moye, Jr. at the highway patrol's academy in West Sacramento replaced the agency's plan to celebrate its 90th anniversary, the highway patrol said in a statement.
Moye stopped 49-year-old Aaron Luther in Riverside on Monday, Aug. 12, and officials have said he probably did not know that Luther had a long and violent criminal history.
The motorcycle officer was filling out paperwork to impound Luther's pickup truck when Luther, who was outside the vehicle and not restrained, reached inside, pulled out a rifle and started shooting on the freeway's overpass.
Moye, 34, was fatally wounded but called for help and two responding officers were shot in the legs while frightened motorists ducked for cover from dozens of flying bullets.
Public records showing a person's criminal history aren't typically something an officer has access to during a traffic stop.
Highway patrol Inland Division Chief Bill Dance said it's not clear whether Moye asked a dispatcher to seek any additional information on Luther, 49, who was convicted of attempted murder in 1994 and also had convictions for assault, domestic violence, unlawful possession of a firearm and battery.
John Aresta, police chief in Malverne, New York, and a past president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said an officer would have almost no way of knowing a driver's criminal history during a traffic stop. When an officer runs a vehicle's license plate and a driver's license, the reports will usually come back listing the registered owner, if it's been reported stolen and if the license has been suspended or revoked. Active warrants may also be available, he said.
"It's not going to come up with a criminal history and it's not going to come with an asterisk saying 'bad guy,'" Aresta said.
Luther did have a bench warrant dating from 2017 after he failed to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Moye had been with the highway patrol for about three years and was a motorcycle officer for about a year.
"His mother told me this was his dream job and he loved going to work," Dance said. "It's what he always wanted to do."
Dance said Moye was an "outstanding" officer devoted to public service. He is survived by his wife, mother, father, stepfather, two brothers, two sisters and a large extended family, Dance said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday at the state Capitol and called Moye's death devastating. Newsom, who took office in January, said he's already been to "too many" funerals of officers killed in the line of duty.
"It's just unacceptable and we need to push back against any notion that these folks are not the heroes that they are," he said, adding that the death is another example of the "normalization of gun violence that we've long accepted in this country but no other country in the world would accept."
Luther's wife and father, meanwhile, were trying to make sense of his actions. They offered condolences to Moye's family.
"I'm so sorry for the officer," Luther's wife, McKenzie Luther, told the Southern California News Group. "I know his family is going through the same thing I am."
Inside the Sacramento Police Academy | The Recruits