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Six years of change since David March's murder

Local Commentary

Posted: April 27, 2008 8:10 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 29, 2002. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 29, 2002.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 29, 2002.
"I will always be painfully honest, work as hard as I can, learn as much as I can, and hopefully make a difference in people's lives."
-- David William March, husband, father, brother, son and friend

This Tuesday marks an anniversary of when Santa Clarita lost one of its finest sons.

On April 29, six years ago, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March was murdered by domestic terrorist Armando Jose Arroyo Garcia, a three-time convicted drug dealer, and twice-deported illegal alien.

Deputy March, traveling alone in an LASD patrol vehicle, made a routine traffic stop in Irwindale, pulling over a vehicle containing driver Garcia. A scuffle ensued, and Garcia shot Dave execution-style, then fled the country to Mexico.

There he remained a free man for almost four years. Dave left behind wife Teri, a step-daughter, parents John and Barbara March, and younger sister Erin March Hildreth, of Santa Clarita. David William March, 33, also left behind hundreds of friends whose lives were dramatically changed that day, END OF WATCH. April 29, 2002.

The tragic loss of David March marked a turning point in the United States on how Americans viewed illegal immigration.

What has transpired since Dave's murder?

Our border remains unsecured by a federal government frozen with political correctness, inept and incompetent to protect her citizens.

America's southern border is so porous, the flow of illegal alien entry is comparable to a flowing river of humanity and drugs that continues to this day to impact and affect every American life. True, the vast majority of these people who come to the United States are not criminals, not malicious. Yet a significant percentage of those who do come here are criminals.

Sadly, David March met the face of malevolence that morning in 2002 and lost his life while protecting those he had sworn to serve. My sentiment of gratitude to Dave March falls short of how I regard this man, and those who serve us. Indeed, I knew the March family. I met Dave while he was training in the Sheriff's Academy in 1995.

How could one not be impressed by this tall, charming, handsome man of 26? A product of Canyon High School, Dave March found his calling. He took his values of decency and unwavering spirit and became a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff. What happened that somber day was evil prevailed over good. When I learned of Dave's murder, I, too, was impacted. In a very real sense, his death changed my life, too.

I began to probe into our country's policy on open borders. I questioned whether the price of cheap labor for American business was worth the price of Dave's life. I began to research, read and inquire America's policy of importing Third World labor at the expense of the middle class. I didn't like what I was learning. It was and remains disgusting and repulsive knowing that annually, thousands of Americans are murdered and run down by drunken driver illegal alien criminals.

Illegal alien / terrorist Garcia remained free in Mexico to come and go as he pleased while Mexico and the United States squabbled about the punishment Garcia would receive for his assassination of Deputy March.

Mexico does not believe in the death penalty. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley emphatically does believe in the death penalty and held firm that Garcia would face the strongest punishment available when he was extradited back to the United States.

And there it stood for almost four years. Were it not for the persistence of the March family continuing to apply pressure to our local, state and federal officials, Garcia would be walking free today. But the deal was struck. Though the death penalty was taken off the table, justice was served. Teamwork between the United States Marshall's Office and the Mexican National Police captured Garcia, and after exhausting all of his Mexican appeals, Garcia was extradited to the United States to the custody of the Los Angeles County sheriff.

Garcia, emboldened as he stood over Deputy March's body with a 9mm in his hand, was reduced to a nothing little piece of human debris in a Pomona courtroom. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is incarcerated at Calipatria State Penitentiary.

Dave's legacy prompted the formation of Minutemen organizations emerging from our citizenry to do the job our government won't do. The Minuteman Project, led by Jim Gilchrist, has dramatically made a difference in bringing to America's attention the critical problem that illegal immigration has created.

I asked Barbara and John how people can honor Dave's memory.

Barbara spoke quietly and candidly: "Six years ago, I lost my son. Only to realize that I lost my country, as well."

Then Barbara continued, "Free Ramos and Compean" ( U.S. Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean who remain in federal prison, convicted of violating the civil rights of an armed Mexican national who was attempting to smuggle drugs into the United States near El Paso).

A benefit screening of the film "Border" by Chris Burgard will assist agents Ramos and Compean. Here are the details:

* Tuesday, May 6, 2008
* Arrive by 7:30 p.m. Screening at 8 p.m.
* Skirball Cultural Center
* 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. (405 south, Mulholland exit)
* Los Angeles, Calif., 90049
* RSVP (310) 440-8575.

Donation is $25 per ticket; all proceeds will go the Border Patrol Agent Legal Defense Fund for agents Ramos and Compean. Both of these agents await the long-overdue decision by the U.S. Appeals Court in New Orleans on the granting of a new trial or dismissal outright of all charges.

Even if you can't make it to the benefit, please send a donation to Border Patrol Agent Legal Defense and Relief Fund and earmark your donation for agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean I hope to see you at the Skirball.

David William March, thank you! You have made a great deal of difference in changing people's lives, including mine.

EOW 4/29/02.

Roger Gitlin is a Santa Clarita resident, teacher and Minuteman. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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