LONG BEACH—Pet owners and others gathered at a Southern California intersection to mourn a popular dog walker killed along with five of six dogs she was transporting when a motorist fleeing police crashed into her car.
Dog owners and friends of Jessica Bingaman held candles and sang at a Wednesday night vigil in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles.
“She was a beloved human being that cared for dogs; that cared for everybody,” an emotional Ann Hovatter told KABC-TV.
Hovatter’s dog Scout was among the pets killed.
“She loved Jessie so much,” Hovatter told KTLA-TV as she showed a photo of her German shepherd.
Bingaman’s mother arrived from Frackville, Pennsylvania, and was amazed by the turnout. “I know she was loved,” said Donann Lawson.
Lawson told KCBS-TV in an interview before the vigil that seeing video of the suspect sitting handcuffed on the curb while her daughter had to be cut out of the wreck “did no justice for me.” She also said she understands police have a job to do, but questioned what warrants a pursuit.
Police Chief Robert Luna came to the vigil and spoke to the mother, the station reported.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Long Beach Police Department—our condolences. We’re hurt, and to mom, I’m so sorry. On behalf of our city, so sorry,” he said.
Alisha Blanchard, a friend of the victim, said she created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Bingaman’s 10-year-old daughter as well as the families’ whose dogs died.
The crash happened Tuesday morning as officers were pursuing a stolen van whose driver refused to stop, police said.
Bingaman, 41, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Four dogs died at the scene and a fifth died at a pet hospital.
A police statement said the sixth dog was released from the hospital to its owners.
After treatment for minor injuries, Javier Olivarez, 43, of Los Angeles was booked into jail for investigation of evading a police officer, felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter, and grand theft auto. Police said he also had an outstanding no-bail warrant for violation of a supervision order following release from a case involving a robbery. No details of that matter were provided.
The police statement said detectives were expected to present their case to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Olivarez remained jailed with no bail. It was unclear if he had retained legal representation.