LA QUINTA, Calif. - Officer Gil Vega started working in the jail at the Palm Springs Police Department in 1982, for the next three decades he'd be assigned to the Raid Task Force and as a patrolman on the streets, winning multiple awards.
Vega's daughters say he would cut out his own newspaper articles whenever he was mentioned.
On the day of Vega's last assignment, his oldest daughter, Yvette Clark, woke up to a text message from her father.
The text said, "Happy birthday mija. I love you, have a beautiful day."
It was the last time Yvette heard from her father.
"I knew my dad was working and I start calling him and calling him, and he didn't answer, which was normal, but something didn't feel right," said Gloria Vega, Gil's daughter.
Yvette told her younger sister Gloria to come home. Their 62-year old father had picked up an overtime shift on a Saturday, and was called to a quiet Palm Springs neighborhood to handle a domestic disturbance, along with a rookie officer, named Lesley Zerebny.
Gloria and Yvette were not surprised that their father was with his trainee.
"He was just an upstanding guy, he believed in the law, he believed in helping people, saving people, protecting the innocent. That's what he was meant to do," Yvette said.
Yvette made it to the hospital, where both officers were pronounced dead. She says she got to see him before he passed but still isn't ready to say goodbye to her father.
The sisters had a list of some 200 names their father wanted to invite to his retirement party in December.
"It ended up turning into his list that we brought to his memorial, that was hard," Yvette said.
Vega's daughters remember their father as charismatic, a jokester, a wonderful grandfather, and an amazing father.
His daughters now wear law enforcement blue and hold their memories close, knowing memories are a luxury not every family member has.
Their younger sister Vanessa was just eight when her father was killed, Lesley Zerebny's daughter, Cora, was not even four months old.
As for their thoughts about the shooter, the women say they don't waste their energy thinking about him. They are hopeful their father and Lesley Zerebny will be memorialized somewhere else in the city, either at city hall or downtown.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15