ANTELOPE, Calif. — A patriotically painted red, white, and blue cross with both stars and stripes was placed alongside Don Julio Boulevard in Antelope, California following the 2014 shooting death of Marine veteran Ryan Matthew Shannon.
Gina Schaeffer, who lives nearby, drove past it for the five years that it’s been there. She’d always pay respects as she drove past but says she never stopped.
“I always noticed that cross, and I’ve always wondered who it belonged to and what it was associated with,” Schaeffer said.
Recently, a construction project in that area grew close to where the cross was standing. Afraid it would be removed or bulldozed, she stopped and asked construction crews if she could bring it home, and they allowed her to do so. Afterward, she took to community pages on Facebook to seek out why the cross was there and who she should return it to.
“The minute I picked it up and felt the solidness and the heaviness of it and the well builtness (sic) of it, I just felt a really big emotional feeling that you know this was bigger than just finding the family. It needed to go back home,” Schaeffer said.
It only took a few days for her to locate Jaclyn Shannon, the widow of that marine veteran. Shannon explained that she had moved out of the area and hadn’t visited the cross for several months. She had no idea that construction was threatening its removal.
“I was very touched when I heard about someone trying to reach me,” Shannon said.
Shannon met Schaeffer at her home in Antelope on August 24 to hand the cross over. Shannon says she’s thankful for everyone in the community who helped get it back to her family.
“I’m very thankful. Torn on end and its existence can be painful, but it does remind us of... of all [the] forms that it takes on,” Shannon said.
Ryan Shannon was shot and killed by Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy’s who were responding to reports of shots fired early in the morning of March 2, 2014. He was carrying what appeared to be a rifle, and, when deputies ordered him to drop it, he pointed what appeared to be a handgun at the deputies when they fired striking and killing him, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
It was later learned Shannon was only carrying replica guns, and the reported sounds of gunfire were not related.
“Detectives have also recovered materials indicating the decedent wanted to end his life and took direct actions with the deputies, resulting in his death,” the department wrote following the 2014 shooting.
His widow disputes those claims and has an ongoing excessive use of force claim against the deputies involved.