COWLITZ COUNTY, WA (KPTV) - Friends and colleagues are remembering Deputy Justin DeRosier, who was shot and killed near Kalama over the weekend.

At the age of 29, he was the father to a five-month-old baby girl.

His wife tells FOX 12, “he was one of a kind” and their daughter is the “spitting image of her daddy.”

He always had a bounce in his step, a smile on his face,” Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman said. 

“I think he could have easily been Sheriff one day, and unfortunately we’re not going to be able to know that.”

Thurman said DeRosier was in the prime of his life when he was killed. He’d been with the department for nearly three years as a patrol deputy, SWAT officer and boat operator.

Prior to that, he’d been with the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office.

Friends say he was a family man with a positive attitude, full of charisma and eager to help.

“He loved his job, he was good at it. That’s what he wanted to do, he wanted to serve the people especially in this community and that’s what he did,” said Nolan Enriquez, who grew up with DeRosier. “This just doesn’t ever happen. Especially around here. Communities around here, it’s like a family and he’s part of our family.”

A lot of people in the area knew DeRosier long before he was a deputy.

He grew up here and graduated from Kelso High School in 2008. Principal Christine McDaniel said he’s the kind of person you never forget.

“I’ve known Justin since he was about 6 years old. My husband and his father coached youth baseball,” McDaniel said. “…There was no one that I knew who was more proud to be a Highlander. He loved Kelso and he loved Kelso High School and his experiences here.”

McDaniel described DeRosier as a focused student and compassionate friend; the kind of kid teachers wanted to have in their classrooms.

“He had this fun, silly side of him that made him a joy to be around. Other students were just attracted to his magnetism,” she added. “His smile was a 60-watt smile, and [he had] just a great laugh and always had a funny story. Always knew how to lighten the mood when it needed to be lightened and kept it serious when it needed to be.”

She said counselors were on hand to help people coping with his death – not only teachers and staff who knew him, but students he grew up with who became teachers themselves.

“We have four teachers on site that went to school with Justin, so they were all good friends,” she added.

She shared the following quote from teacher Tayler Mustion, who was a classmate and teammate of DeRosier’s:

“I think the most profound quality that Justin has (and this has been obvious since grade school) is that he never changes who he is for anyone. He is the same honest, humorous and caring person, regardless of his company or his environment. As a result, he has a large group of friends and the respect of every person he meets. I’ve always admired Justin for this quality and have always been impressed that the only difference between Justin in 1st grade and Justin in 12th grade is that he rode a bigger motorcycle. His authenticity as a person is a rare quality and one that I would like to emulate.”

A law enforcement processional will be underway along I-5 Monday evening, as DeRosier is brought from the hospital back home to the Kelso area. Fire crews will be staging their engines at four overpasses along the way.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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