Tag Archives: Matthew Pavelka

Burbank Police Mark 15 Years Since Officer Matthew Pavelka Lost His Life

Burbank Police Honor Guard placing a wreath at the base of the guardian. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Today marks the anniversary of BPD Fallen Officer Matthew Pavelka, End of Watch, November 15, 2003.   Matthew Pavelka was appointed as an officer for the City of Burbank on August 5, 2002.

The BPD had not lost an officer in the line of duty by gunfire for more than eighty-three years.  On the evening of November 15, 2003, that all changed.  Veteran Officer Gregory Campbell had stopped a vehicle, without license plates, containing two males.  The area where the stop was made was well known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity, so Campbell wisely called for backup.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

The first officer to respond was 26-year old Mathew Pavelka, who had been in the field as a police officer for just ten months.  When Campbell and Pavelka approached the suspect vehicle and ordered the two male subjects to exit the vehicle, they both alighted firing automatic weapons.  Both Campbell and Pavelka were wounded several times, but in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the officers mortally wounded one of the gunmen.  The other suspect escaped on foot.

Both of the wounded officers were transported to a local hospital, where Officer Pavelka died during surgery and Officer Campbell was treated and remained in critical but stable condition.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003, the suspect who fled was taken into custody.

Matthew Pavelka was remembered by more than one of his fellow officers as a charming, light-hearted 26-year-old, with a crown of spiky orange hair, who loved being a cop.

Foundation Doubles Scholarship for Fallen Officer

At their January board meeting, the Burbank Police Foundation unanimously voted in favor of doubling the Matthew Pavelka Scholarship amounts for 2014 – bringing each of the six scholarships up to $1,000.

The purpose of the annual Matthew Pavelka Scholarships is provide an award for high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding effort to pursue a vocational goal, to motivate students to dedicate themselves more thoroughly and responsibly to their education or training, and to encourage students to strive for excellence and distinction in whatever they undertake.

Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka who was tragically murdered on November 15, 2003

Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka who was tragically murdered on November 15, 2003

The Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Fund was established after Officer Pavelka tragically lost his life to gun violence on November 15, 2003. The entire community was devastated by the loss; and less than 24 hours after the tragedy, Burbank’s unbelievable generosity began to pour in with donations for Officer Pavelka’s family. Officer Pavelka’s parents, Mike and Sue Pavelka, graciously requested that all donations be used to promote the building of future leaders. There was never a question as to the career path that Officer Matthew Pavelka would follow. After high school, he joined the Air Force, only because he was too young to enroll in a police academy – where he served for five years as a military policeman. He went on to receive an associate of arts degree in criminal justice, and was intent on further pursuing his education in his chosen field.

RULES OF ELIGIBILITY

Applicant must be a graduating high school senior from: Bellarmine-Jefferson, Burbank High School, John Burroughs High School, Monterey High School, Providence High School, or a Burbank Police Officers’ Association current, active or retired member’s dependent. Applicant must have applied (or must be about to apply) for admission to an accredited college or university, as a fully matriculated student to pursue a four year degree in secondary education. One scholarship will be awarded per school and to a BPOA member’s dependent – for a total of six scholarships distributed.

HOW TO APPLY

Eligible students may obtain scholarship applications from their school counselor or advisor. For additional information, or to donate to the Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Fund, please contact the Burbank Police Foundation at (818) 237-9032 or visit our website at BurbankPoliceFoundation.org.

Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing of Burbank Police Officer

After close to nine years after the shooting, the man responsible for the murder of a Burbank Police Officer and the attempted murder of another, was finally sentenced today in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka who was tragically murdered on November 15, 2003

On November 15, 2003, Officer Matthew Pavelka was gunned down in a brutal act of violence. The resulting investigation identified David Garcia as the person responsible for Officer Pavelka’s murder. After a two-week manhunt, David Garcia was arrested and has remained in custody since his arrest.

The shooting occurred in a Ramada Inn parking lot near Burbank Airport. Officer Greg Campbell was on patrol and saw two men sitting in a car without license plates in an area then known for drug and gang-related activity. Officer Campbell radioed for assistance and Officer Pavelka arrived.

David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, began firing on the officers and they returned fire. Both officers were hit. Pavelka, 26, was killed, and Campbell was seriously wounded. Aranda was killed and Garcia fled and was arrested in Tijuana on Thanksgiving Day 2003 following an extensive manhunt.

David Garcia, charged in the murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell, was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and all other counts in connection with the 2003 killing.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry accepted the plea of Garcia, and imposed the sentence at a hearing this morning. Garcia admitted to the first-degree murder of Officer Pavelka and the attempted murder of Officer Campbell. David Garcia also pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of methamphetamine, two counts each of possession of a machine gun and possession of an assault weapon and one count of possession of a silencer.

Burbank Police Officers remove the flag from Matthew Pavelka's casket during his 2003 funeral. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In addition, Garcia admitted to two special circumstance allegations: the murder victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties; and the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.

Today’s sentencing brings to a close a nearly decade long quest for justice for the murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka and the severe wounding of Officer Gregory Campbell.

“This does not bring back Officer Pavelka,” says Burbank City Manager Mike Flad. “Nor does this heal Officer Campbell’s life altering injuries. However, we hope that the sentence brings some closure for Matthew and Greg’s families. Our thoughts have always been with them through this nine-year ordeal.   Justice was delayed, but in the end, justice was served.”

The Burbank Police Officers Association and the Pavelka family has set up a scholarship program and every year award scholarship money to Burbank students to help with their college educations.

Burbank Police Officers Association Give Out Scholarships In Honor Of Matthew Pavelka

Photo By Ross A. Benson

The Matthew Pavelka Endowment Fund was established after Officer Pavelka was tragically murdered on November 15, 2003.  In that one instance of brutal gun violence, an entire community was devastated.  Less than 24 hours after the incident, Burbank’s unbelievable generosity began to pour in.  The businesses and residents of Burbank, and the surrounding communities’ kindness and support was overwhelming.

Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka who was tragically murdered on November 15, 2003.

Officer Matthew Pavelka’s parents, Mike and Sue Pavelka, graciously requested the endowment fund be used to promote the building of future leaders. There was never a question as to the career path that Officer Matthew Pavelka would follow. After high school, he joined the Air Force, only because he was too young to enroll in a police academy. He served for five years as a military policeman, received an associate of arts degree in criminal justice, and was intent on further pursuing his education in his chosen field. Matthew Pavelka was remembered by more than one of his fellow officers as a charming, light-hearted 26-year-old, with a crown of spiky orange hair, who loved being a cop.

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