Oakland Officers Killed
Daniel Sakai -
Sgt. Daniel Sakai was a rising star on the Oakland police SWAT team.
Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley, was recently named a leader of the entry team, colleagues said. SWAT members are assigned to either the entry team, which breaks down doors in search of suspects, or the sniper team, which takes up positions nearby in case police need to open fire.
"He quickly learned his way through the steps of being a good, solid police officer," said Capt. Ed Tracey. "He was a really good student, and he learned from the best of the best."
Sakai had just burst into an East Oakland apartment Saturday when he was shot to death.
Before joining the SWAT team, Sakai worked as a K-9 officer, responding to calls with his dog, Doc.
He loved nature and studied forestry at UC Berkeley, where he also worked as a community service officer, escorting students around campus at night.
After graduation, he spent a year in Japan teaching English, said Jim Yu, who was a fellow community service officer.
"He was the person that everyone looked up to and wanted to be," Yu said. "He had the highest ethics."
Sakai's wife, Jennifer, is a UC Berkeley police officer. The couple have a young daughter and enjoyed skiing together, friends said.
Daniel Sakai "was one of the most wonderful people you could meet," said Amy Empson, 36, of San Diego, who went to high school with him in Big Bear (San Bernardino County).
"Daniel was one of a kind," she said. "He was sweet, caring, the most intellectual person you could ever meet. He touched all of us."
Sakai was a Boy Scout, rising to the level of Eagle Scout. None of his friends was surprised to learn that he became a police officer.
"He was a fantastic guy to be around," said Chad Empson, 36. "He was just warm, inviting, always willing to talk to anybody who wanted to talk to him."
While at UC Berkeley, Sakai was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He stayed active in the organization after graduation.
"We were all pretty excited to get someone who was that cool to join our house," said Paul Schroeder, 38, of San Ramon.