Robbie Castro, 17, was only two months old when Glendora Police Officer Louis Pompei became the first Glendora officer to die in the line of duty.
But Castro, a senior at Damien High School, knows of the legacy Pompei left behind, and the sacrifice he made the fateful night he was killed by two armed robbers on June 9, 1995.
That is why the Eagle Scout candidate decided the memorial in Pompei’s honor in Via Verde Park in San Dimas was in dire need of some sprucing up.
“I just don’t think the conditions of the park has been upheld to honor him,” said Castro. “I wanted to fix up the park to bring it back to the condition it should be in.”
In two days in November, Castro, the son of Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro, supervised a crew of 35 volunteers, including members of his Boy Scout Troop 491, to clean up the memorial area at the corner of Via Verde Park at Puente and Via Verde avenues in San Dimas.
Castro gathered donation money from local businesses and even put in $100 of his own money for memorial restoration efforts.
Volunteers put in 18 hours of work, clearing dead plants, replanting, cleaning, repainting and resealing a bench.
The end result was a memorial that looks as new as the day it was dedicated to the late Pompei in 1996. Just yards away is the Vons Grocery store where Pompei was fatally shot 17 years ago.
Pompei, 30, served with the Glendora Police Department for seven years and was engaged to be married. He had just dropped off his fiancee and stopped by the Vons Grocery store to buy dog food when two armed robbers attempted to rob the store.
The off-duty Pompei was shot three times as he tried to thwart the robbery. The teenaged gunmen, both injured in the gunfire, fled the scene as Pompei ran to a nearby payphone to call 911.
Two hours later, Pompei succumbed to his injuries. The two gunmen were later arrested and are currently serving life sentences.
Castro said he has learned from the example Pompei led 17 years ago and hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps in becoming a police officer.
“Officer Pompei made the ultimate sacrifice and died while trying to protect people,” said Castro. “I think we should always honor that.”