15 Law Enforcement Officers Murdered By Domestic Extremists Since the Oklahoma City Bombing
Since the Oklahoma City bombing, domestic extremists have murdered 15 law enforcement officers. Each of their deaths was a unique tragedy.
By Susy Buchanan
Red Bluff, Calif., Police Department
Nov. 19, 2002
The city of Red Bluff perches serenely on the banks of the Sacramento River, a quiet California country town of square dance festivals, pygmy goat shows, rodeos and the occasional appearance of a monster truck. But Red Bluff has been under a cloud for nearly three years, coping with the murder of popular police officer David Mobilio on Nov. 19, 2002, and the subsequent trial, which ended last spring with a conviction and death sentence for Mobilio's killer.
Police Chief Al Shamblin and Mobilio had worked together since Mobilio first became an officer in Red Bluff, and Shamblin was the commanding officer on the night that Mobilio was killed. Shamblin said he got the call just after 2 a.m. that night that Mobilio had been shot at a gas station. The dispatcher, overcome by emotion, could hardly get the words out.
Andrew Mickel, a disturbed former student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who decided killing a cop would provide a platform for his antigovernment political views, had chosen the town, and Mobilio, at random. Mickel had staked out a position near a gas station Dumpster not far from the police station, lying in wait. He murdered Mobilio as the Red Bluff officer pumped gas into his cruiser, shooting Mobilio twice before disappearing into the night. Mickel would be caught soon after bragging of the murder on the Internet.
"Hello everyone my name is Andy," Mickel boasted. "I killed a police officer in Red Bluff, CA in a motion to bring attention to, and halt, the police-state tactics that have been used throughout our country."
On the night of the slaying, Chief Shamblin had the difficult task of breaking the news to Linda, Mobilio's wife. He remembers searching for the remote house where she lived with their 2-year-old son on darkened country roads near 4 a.m.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Shamblin says quietly. "I didn't say a whole lot. She saw me and it was one of those things where we didn't say much. But I had to tell her he was dead."
David Mobilio had been a bear of a man. His love of weightlifting had turned his arms and legs into tree trunks. He was also exuberant and loved riding quad ATVs and picking up new pastimes like hunting wild pigs or fishing — the last of which he did poorly but with great, and characteristic, enthusiasm, Shamblin says.
Mobilio was fearless on the streets he worked as a patrol officer for three years. But like a scene out of the movie "Kindergarten Cop," he found himself fighting a bad case of nerves when he began working as a D.A.R.E. officer for a year, talking to elementary school students about drugs. Mobilio's initial stage fright was understandable. "Cops can go in front of guns every day but classrooms can be nerve-wracking," Shamblin says.
Mobilio needn't have worried, Shamblin says. "The kids loved him."
Robust in appearance, Mobilio had a sense of humor that endeared him to the school children as well as to fellow officers. His pranks were legendary and included handing out phony lottery tickets at a Christmas party and getting a sergeant to believe, for a few precious minutes, that he had won $10,000. Then there was the time Mobilio applied honey to the door handle of a patrol car at shift change. The sticky mess was discovered not by Mobilio's intended victim, but a humorless veteran sergeant. Mobilio endured quite a lecture for that one.
"What I miss most," Shamblin says, "was his ability to tease people, to make a room light-hearted. That's starting to return, but it has been quite a long while."