Canyon Country resident and Burbank Police Department officer Matthew Pavelka was honored on Wednesday, Nov. 15 on the 20th anniversay of his death with a flagpole and plaque dedicatation ceremony at Johnny Carson Park in Burbank.
The Burbank Police Foundation held the 20th year commemoration ceremony in honor of the enduring memory of Officer Matthew Pavelka.
On Nov. 15, 2003, Pavelka, 26, was gunned down 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. Campbell radioed for assistance and Pavelka arrived to assist.
David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, began firing on the officers. Both officers were hit. Pavelka, 26, was killed and Campbell was seriously wounded. Aranda was killed. Garcia fled and was arrested in Tijuana on Thanksgiving Day 2003 following an extensive manhunt.
Nearly nine years later in 2012 Garcia was convicted of the murder of Pavelka and the attempted murder of Campbell and was sentenced 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.
The Burbank community was left reeling from the devastating loss of Pavelka who had served only 10 months on the Burbank Police Department. He was the first Burbank officer to die in the line of fire in 83 years.
The Foundation held the flagpole and commemorative plaque dedication in Pavelka’s honor “ensuring that his selfless service and sacrifice continue to be remembered and cherished by all.”
Pavelka was the son of Mike and Sue Pavelka and nephew of Kathy Jackson.