DelRio, 55, who is married and has multiple children and grandchildren, has always been extremely dedicated to public service, said Dayton Municipal Court Judge Daniel Gehres. DelRio focused on removing life-ruining and potentially lethal substances from the community, Gehres told the Dayton Daily News.
DelRio was shot twice Monday evening while descending the basement stairs of a one-story home at 1454 Ruskin Road.
At times when most community members are on the couch watching TV, spending time with family or asleep in their beds, DelRio was kicking in doors and taking down dangerous criminals to try to get deadly drugs off the street, said Gehres.
“He went down that stairway for everybody in Dayton,” said Gehres, as he fought back tears. “The rest of us were home … he was there trying to save lives.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the community is heartbroken over Monday’s violence and asked citizens to pray for DelRio, his family and the Dayton officers who have been touched by tragedy this year.
DelRio is an “honorable, good, amazing, heroic man,” the mayor said.
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Investigation began in July
Members of the DEA task force DelRio was part of arrested four people in the home for various charges that included conspiracy to distribute drugs.
The alleged shooter, 39-year-old Nathan Goddard Jr., also faces a charge of assaulting a federal officer using a deadly weapon, officials said.
The DEA Dayton Resident Office’s investigation into a local fentanyl trafficking organization began in mid-July, and a “cooperating defendant” provided info to the DEA that Goddard was their supplier, according to a criminal complaint in federal court.
The cooperator indicated he or she had obtained about one pound of marijuana from Goddard on Nov. 3 in the basement of the Ruskin Road home and during the transaction saw about 10 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, the complaint states.
Investigators monitored and recorded a telephone call between the cooperator and Goddard about a potential purchase of marijuana and fentanyl, the complaint states.
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The cooperating defendant told investigators that Goddard and other suspects were in possession of firearms during the Nov. 3 marijuana purchase, the complaint states.
DelRio was shot as authorities executed a search warrant that led to recovery of more than 13 kilograms of suspected fentanyl and cocaine, 51 kilos of suspected marijuana and multiple firearms and nearly $52,000 in cash.
During an interview later with investigators, Goddard said he heard a boom at the door of his home and grabbed a gun off the coffee table in the basement, the complaint states.
Goddard said he fired two or three times at the person coming down the stairs, and he claimed he thought the people who burst into the home were there to rob him, the complaint states.
Agents and officers said they knocked on the door of the home and announced their presence and made entry when no one answered.
A familiar face, consummate pro
Few people have what it takes to be in DelRio’s line of work because of the dangers he faces every time he goes undercover or executes a search warrant, which include gunfire, violent suspects and aggressive pit bulls, said Gehres.
Gehres has served on the municipal court since January 1988 and remembers when DelRio came out of the police academy, started working patrol and became an undercover officer. Gehres got to know the detective because of their numerous meetings to review applications for search warrants, which could happen at all times of day or night.
In the 1990s, DelRio would be in Gehres’ courtroom, office or at his home as often as three times a week seeking a search warrant.
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DelRio joined the Dayton police force in 1989 and developed a reputation as the consummate professional, police officials said.
DelRio was a nice guy — a family guy — who in his job never took shortcuts, never did sloppy work, Gehres said.
“Jorge … never failed to cross a T or never once failed to dot an I,” Gehres said. “If you had a search warrant from Jorge, it was golden.”
Gehres, who is 66, said it is remarkable that 30 years after joining the force, DelRio still was breaking down doors and taking down bad guys in dangerous situations all to make the community safer.
Gehres said the drugs that were recovered as part of Monday’s operation could have resulted in many fatal overdoses if they hit the streets.
“I can tell you there’s absolutely no better officer than Jorge DelRio,” Gehres said.
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The detective any commander would want
Retired Dayton police Lt. Gregg Gaby joined the department a few years before DelRio and was at the hospital Monday night, “like most of the DPD and law enforcement family.”
He helped train officers and got to know DelRio early on, and later commanded SWAT and the narcotics bureau, where their jobs often intertwined.
“We did a lot of warrants together,” Gaby said Wednesday. “That could have been (anyone) going down the steps” the night DelRio was shot.
“I was lucky enough to be assigned as the narcotics bureau commander and worked with Jorge,” Gaby said. “He is the detective any commander of a unit would want. He understands the big picture and makes a huge impact in making our community a safer place.”
“He’s a stand-up guy who was a hard worker,” Gaby added. “I don’t think you can talk to anybody in law enforcement who has anything bad to say about Jorge.”
Community response touches wife
Mayor Whaley said on Tuesday she met with DelRio’s wife, Kathy, at Grandview Hospital, where her husband was on advanced life support in the ICU.
Whaley said Kathy DelRio is very strong and was happy to hear how much the community appreciated her husband’s work to make neighborhoods safer.
Whaley said Dayton police officers and their families are stronger than most and “full of love.”
The mayor said the community has been giving and generous in response to this year’s series of tragedies and she’s sure it will again step up to help the DelRio family and the police department during this difficult time.
Whaley said she’s amazed how the community has responded with beauty and kindness to traumatic and painful events.
“I’ve learned personally that grieving is a process,” she said. “We will continue to do everything we can to hold this community together.”
Staff Writer Nick Blizzard contributed to this report.