Ex-relatives of suspect in South Salt Lake officer’s death write open letter to his family

Officer David Romrell. Photo Courtesy: GoFundMe

SOUTH SALT CITY, Utah, Nov. 26, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Two former relatives of the suspect who ran over a South Salt Lake police officer have reached out to his family in an emotional open letter posted on Facebook Sunday night.

Officer David Romrell, 31, died Saturday night after being struck by a car driven by Felix Anthony Calata, who was believed to be fleeing the scene of business burglary near 3575 South and West Temple Street.

Calata was also killed in the deadly incident after shot by police.

The open letter by Calata’s ex-brother and sister-in-law was posted Sunday on social media.

An open letter to Mrs. Romrell, from the ex-brother and sister-in-law of the man who killed your husband.

Thanksgiving weekend was winding down for us like most families. We were together as a family, nieces, nephews, siblings and in-laws! With a lot of laughs, new memories and bellies full of turkey, Thanksgiving 2018 was a good time.

Saturday night we went to bed just as any other night, when suddenly the shrieks, screams and cries of our sister tore through our peaceful home. “Felix is dead!” she screamed! We didn’t know the details yet of what had happened but we knew Felix, had been on a downward spiral for a long time now. We knew he wasn’t the same person who started dating my sister, 12 years ago, who was romantic and funny.

After many run-ins with the law and let downs, my sister decided to leave her husband and take their two children away to Texas so they’d be safe. She hasn’t heard from him in months and when she got that phone call in the middle of the night her heart broke for her children, only 6 and 10 years old.

In contrast, soon after we heard about your husband. A good man who has served his country. Who was badly injured and fighting for his life. Immediately, our whole family’s energy focused on your husband and your family. We prayed for his life. That God may spare him from this senseless act. It was to no avail and your husband, a man who had a brand new baby at home, who, went into work that day just as he did any other day, never came back.

My name is Manuel Alejandro Lopez and David Romrell is my brother in arms. I, too am a marine veteran and it hurt me to see a brother fall in such a way. Without meaning to politicize this ordeal, we want to reach out and let you know, we are with you. We know what Felix did was inexcusable. His mental illness took over and we never got him back. Felix’s kids are here in the room as I write this and they are also, innocent lives that have forever been changed. We want you and your baby to know, our sister and our family will make sure to raise them, knowing that your husband, was the “good guy!” Your husband, died a HERO! Our niece and nephew don’t have to know the horrendous things their father has done but they WILL honor your husband.

We are all heartbroken by this and we are hurting too. If there is anything you may need from us to help you find peace, please reach out. Your precious baby doesn’t deserve to be left without a father. We are very sorry for your loss.

As this Thanksgiving weekend wraps up, we hope everyone remains thankful for their families, for our police force and our military!

Claudia & Manuel Lopez
Semper Fi brother Romrell

Romrell joined the South Salt Lake Police Department in January 2018.

He is the first South Salt Lake police officer killed in the line of duty.

Gov. Gary R. Herbert will order the lowering of the flag of the United States and the flag of the state of Utah on the day of Romrell’s funeral.

Funeral plans are forthcoming.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by family members to benefit Romrell’s wife and baby.


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