Have you been following the story about the killing of an unarmed Camp Pendleton Marine by an Orange County Sheriff, a little more than a week ago – up in San Clemente? It reportedly happened at 4:45 in the morning on February 7th.
The basic story line from the Sheriffs is that because Sgt. Manny Loggins was acting irrationally and endangering his two daughters who were in the back seat of the family’s SUV, a deputy alongside the vehicle shot him to prevent him from driving away and causing harm to the girls, aged 9 and 14.
Loggins had supposedly crashed his GMC Yukon through a gate in the parking lot of San Clemente High School early in the morning. Reportedly he then refused to comply with a deputy that confronted him; then he “disappears” into the darkness and upon his return, he got back into the vehicle and again refusing orders, was trying to drive away when he was shot. The girls, allegedly, told sheriffs that dad was “acting oddly”.
Right off the top, there are so many problems with this story, that when I first read it last week, I earmarked my brain to follow it as it developed. An unarmed Marine shot right in front of his daughters?
And develop it did. Let’s see if we can follow its twists and turns:
The U-T first picked the story up on Thursday, Feb. 9th – two days after the incident.
The U-T quoted Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino who laid out their basic story:
The incident began when a deputy, parked at San Clemente High writing reports in his car, witnesses a Chevrolet Yukon speed by the adjacent street, and then turn into the school’s parking lot, crashing through a gate. The deputy – who has not been identified up to today – pulled his car behind the Yukon. The guy inside – Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr. – gets out, and according to the deputy, ignores his orders and walks off toward the athletic field.
Next, Loggins returned to his SUV. Either meanwhile or just then, the deputy radios for backup. At some point, the deputy open fires at Loggins.
According to Amormino:
“Something transpired where the deputy felt his life was in danger. The deputy fired, hitting Loggins. Loggins was taken to a hospital, where he died later. He was concerned that if he let Mr. Loggins drive off displaying that irrational behavior then the kids were in danger.””
Amormino – the Orange County Sheriff spokesman – said this on Feb. 9th. Loggins’ daughters were in the back seat of the Yukon, but neither they nor the deputy were injured.
Then the U-T – in the same article – gave the Camp Pendleton’s emerging side and response story.
At first it was only the fact that Loggins had enlisted in October 1998, and had been assigned to headquarters and support battalion as a transportation management specialist. We find out that Loggins had received a number of Navy and Marine Corps decorations – but all were non-combat type of commendations, as he had not served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
The next day – February 10th – , the story deepens.
The U-T reported that according to Loggins’ supervisor, Maj. Christopher Cox, the Marine sergeant “was deeply religious and regularly took early morning prayer walks with his daughters”. Cox told the LA Times that Loggins “was a devout Christian who walked at the San Clemente High School track with his family early in the morning ( http://lat.ms/xEr4Sz). Loggins’ wife usually walked with the family but had stopped going because she is pregnant, Cox said. The Major continued:
“He was a mentor, somewhat of a father figure, to a number of the Marines. He was very soft-spoken, very nonconfrontational – very, very respectful. He was just the epitome of respect.”
And true to form, the official story also developed. The same article in the U-T:
Authorities say a deputy tried to pull over Loggins for a traffic violation at about 4:30 am Tuesday when he drove through the school parking lot gate. Authorities say Loggins ignored the deputy’s orders and when he walked back toward the SUV, the deputy feared for his life and fired.
Okay, so now we have Loggins refusing to “pull over … for a traffic violation at about 4:30 am” and then while he “walked back toward the SUV” he was shot. The deputy – still un-named – was placed on administrative leave.
Later that day – February 10th, Friday, we have more pushback by Orange County against the efforts by the Marines to paint a different picture of Loggins. The U-T reports that on that day, Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino told them “Loggins did not respond to the deputy’s orders and yelled irrational statements that led the deputy to grow concerned about the children who were in Loggins’ SUV. Amormino declined to specify what Loggins said, citing the pending investigation.”
So, Loggins was shot out of concern for the safety of his children, the two girls, 9 and 14, in the back seat.
That’s how the story was left for the weekend. Then on this past Tuesday, the 14th – Valentine’s Day – the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs entered the fray. They released new information about the case in order “to clarify initial reports”. And their big info was that Loggins’ daughters had told the deputy just before their dad was shot that he had been “acting oddly”.
This news – that the girls spoke to deputies before the shooting – had not been initially released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The association said that the girls “could be heard screaming in the SUV, and when approached by sheriff’s personnel reported their father had been acting oddly.”
Not only that, but the deputy union furthered their clarification and stated that meanwhile, “Loggins could be heard in a nearby field yelling irrational statements.” And when he returned, the statement said, Loggins allegedly ignored warnings by deputies not to start the SUV. Then he was shot. The deputy who shot him is a 15-year veteran of the department who previously served four years with the Marines, the union said.
Tom Dominguez, president of the association declared:
“It is heartbreaking that Manuel Loggins created a situation that put his children in danger and ultimately cost him his life.”
Then – to use the vernacular – the shit hit the fan. The Marines swung back on Thursday, February 16th.
A friend who served with Loggins and considered him a mentor told The Los Angeles Times that he did not believe the union’s account of what happened.
“Of course they’re going to blame him for his death — why would they admit to murder?” Aaron Banks told the Times. “He would never hurt his daughters. He loved his daughters more than anything.”
Then Camp Pendleton’s commanding officer weighed in.
The commanding officer of Camp Pendleton said Thursday, Feb. 16th, that he is displeased at “incorrect and deeply hurtful” comments made about a Marine sergeant fatally shot by an Orange County sheriff’s deputy. Col. Nicholas Marano said in a written statement:
“While I am confident they will do the right thing in the end, I am less than satisfied with the official response from the city of San Clemente and Orange County. Many of the statements made concerning Manny Loggins’ character over the past few days are incorrect and deeply hurtful to an already grieving family.”
This quote from Col Marano was widely published in the media. Here’s the LA Times report. The colonel did not specify which comments he found incorrect. Nor did he mention the statement by the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs earlier that had blamed Loggins. Marano also stated:
“Sgt. Manny Loggins was a loved and respected Marine. We have received an unprecedented amount of emails and phone calls this past week from current and former Marines who knew and loved Sgt. Loggins. A family has lost their father, husband, brother and son. An unborn child will never know her father.”
So, it comes down to the Sheriffs versus the Marines.
The Sheriff association stated that Loggins had “walked into the dark, abandoning his daughters” inside the Yukon, and that they could be heard screaming, etc. And the story is that when Loggins returned, he refused demands to get out of the vehicle and instead started to drive away. He was shot to prevent this, etc.
Said Tom Dominguez, president of the association:
“The actions of our deputy clearly prevented serious harm from coming to Loggins’ two children and anyone else on the road that morning.”
Also on Thursday, the 16th, the Mayor of the City of San Clemente, Jim Evert, jumped in. The San Clemente Times reports:
Mayor Jim Evert said today that he could understand Marano’s concern and to some degree frustration. Evert said he has spoken to the colonel directly.
“As a community that faithfully supports its neighboring Marines, this incident has shocked and saddened us,” the mayor said in a letter to the editor this week. “It is unfortunate and unusual to have news of this magnitude hit our community; therefore, I ask that we as a community keep the Loggins family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Then, boom, push back from the Deputy’s association. President Tom Dominguez in a news release, responded by saying the association’s original statement had not been about character.
“Our statement was about the events of the morning of February 7, 2012 and nothing more. We issued the facts not a commentary on the character of any individual in this case. We await the results of the independent investigation.”
So, that is where things are now. Sgt. Loggins is dead, both sides are implicating the other, and somewhere in Southern California there is a new widow with three children, and one on the way. In the meantime, community leaders have come forward to help the Loggins’ family. And the story continues….
The Heritage of San Clemente Foundation and the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce are organizing fundraisers to create an educational fund for the children.
Contributions can be made through any branch of Farmer & Merchants Bank and donors can also mail their contributions directly to San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, c/o of Sgt. Loggins Childrens’ Memorial Fund, 1100 North El Camino Real, San Clemente, Calif. 92672. Checks can be made out to: Sgt. Loggins Childrens’ Memorial Fund. Contributions are not tax-deductible. For more information, email heritage@marinemoument.