By Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times –
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A decorated Marine who was fatally shot by an Orange County sheriff’s deputy in a high school parking lot was described Thursday as a deeply religious man who regularly went to the campus track with his young daughters for early-morning prayer walks.
Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr. was shot to death during the predawn hours Tuesday under largely unexplained circumstances in a parking lot at San Clemente High School.
Loggins’ daughters, 9 and 14, were sitting nearby in the family SUV at the time of the shooting.
Loggins, who was based at Camp Pendleton, was driving “at a high rate of speed” when he crashed his Yukon SUV through a gate at the parking lot about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, said sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.
A nearby deputy who had been doing paperwork in his patrol car pulled up behind the Yukon. Loggins emerged from the SUV and headed toward the athletic field, apparently ignoring the deputy’s orders to stop, Amormino said.
When Loggins turned and headed back to the Yukon, the deputy suddenly felt threatened and opened fire, Amormino said.
Amormino said he did not know why the deputy felt threatened, or how many shots were fired, or whether Loggins was armed. Marine sources said Loggins was not in possession of a weapon.
Loggins was taken to Mission Hospital, where he died.
Major Christopher Cox said Loggins had been scheduled to work at 7:30 that morning at the base, where he managed the in-bound and out-bound cargo.
Cox, who was Loggins’ supervisor, said the 31-year-old Marine was a devout Christian who often took his daughters to the San Clemente High track for what he called “prayer walks.”
“They would take their Bibles and walk around the track in the morning,” Cox said.
He said Loggins’ wife usually accompanied them but is pregnant and was unable to go. “She’s just so pregnant now, she stopped going,” Cox said.
Cox said Loggins volunteered with a Big Brothers group and at nursing homes, and was close to earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“He was a mentor, somewhat of a father figure, to a number of the Marines,” Cox said. “He was very soft-spoken, very nonconfrontational — very, very respectful. He was just the epitome of respect.”.
Cox said he and other Marines were trying to make sense of the shooting and were frustrated with the lack of information.
“I’ve got some Marines that are very upset,” he said.
The deputy who shot him was placed on administrative leave, which is routine. His name has not been released.
The Orange County district attorney’s office, which is investigating the shooting, declined to comment.
Loggins, a native of Joliet, Ill., joined the Marines in 1998. Among other commendations, he had received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Navy Unit Commendations and three Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals.
A Camp Pendleton spokesman said Loggins had not served any combat tours.