Marylou Armer, a 20-year veteran of the Santa Rosa Police Department, died on March 31. | Photo courtesy of SRPD

A Filipina American detective of the Santa Rosa Police Department, who became California’s first line-of-duty death related to the novel coronavirus, was honored with a procession of patrol cars through the North Bay on Friday, April 3.

Marylou Armer, 43, was a 20-year veteran of the department and succumbed to the illness on Tuesday, March 31 after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the month, the department confirmed in an email with the Asian Journal.

In addition to the procession featuring patrol cars from across the state, the police department on Friday honored her by wearing blue.

A resident of American Canyon in Napa County, she was also the county’s first death related to COVID-19.

“Marylou was a bright light in this organization. She was a thoughtful and committed public servant who loved helping people and loved the people she worked with,” police chief Rainer Navarro said in a video shared on Twitter.

Armer was a member of the police department’s domestic violence sexual assault team at the time of her death. She began her career in Santa Rosa as a field evidence technician in 1999 and was sworn in as a police officer in May 2008.

Before moving to Northern California, Armer grew up in San Diego and joined the National City Police Department’s Explorer program.

“She’s a very caring person and wanted to be there to help the community,” her sister Marites Lau, who lives in Riverside County, told NBC San Diego. ”We never thought that this COVID-19 is the one that’s going to put her in the hospital and take her away from us.”

In July 2013, Armer and another officer arrested a woman on suspicion of drunk driving when a male passenger came at them and attacked Armer, resulting in serious injuries to her head and face. She recovered and returned to duty.

“She was naturally just a hard worker and a fighter,” Police Capt. John Cregan told the Napa Valley Register.

Colleagues also remembered how Armer would bring lumpia (Filipino fried spring rolls) to staff potlucks or even on any given day.

“It wouldn’t last a half hour,” Blaine Hunt, a retired officer, told the Napa Valley Register. She could never make enough of it to make the whole department happy.”

Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a statement in light of Armer’s death and ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death,” Newsom said. “Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”

Armer is survived by her husband and daughter.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California has set up a fundraiser for Armer’s family.

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Editor’s note: The Asian Journal is working to document those of Filipino descent who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus in the United States. If you know of someone or would like to offer a remembrance of someone who has died of COVID-19, please tell us about them by emailing digital@asianjournalinc.com with the subject line “Remembering Lives Lost.”

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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