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By Randy Economy
Richard Bukowiecki, the Chief of Police at the Cerritos College Police Department was found dead in a Westminster motel room Monday morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Bukowiecki was 47 years old and was a resident of Huntington Beach.
Bukowiecki checked himself into a Super 8 Motel located at the 15500 Block of Beach Boulevard in Westminster apparently on Sunday, according to a manager at the location who identified himself to Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper only as “MJ.”
MJ said that he or any other member of his staff did not know that Bukowiecki was a member of law enforcement at the time he checked into his room.
MJ said that a house cleaner had knocked on the second floor room door where Bukowiecki was staying “sometime early Monday morning” and found the lifeless body.
“We immediately called the Westminster Police and the entire area around the room was totally shut down. None of us could go in or out of the second floor for hours,” MJ said.
“The police were very quiet about what was going on, and they didn’t provide a lot of details to us for a long time,” MJ continued.
The Orange County Coroner confirmed to HMG-CN on Tuesday that the incident took place at 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning.
Cerritos College Superintendent Linda Lacy was informed on the death of Bukowiecki on Monday afternoon, and she immediately informed members of the Board of Trustees and other college officials about the situation via an email at 5:45 p.m.
“The College has received very tragic news this afternoon. We are saddened to have learned that Campus Police Chief Richard “Buk” Bukowiecki has unexpectedly passed away. Additional information will be forthcoming,” Lacy wrote.
HMG-CN obtained a copy of the email late Monday night and was the first news outlet to report on the facts of the situation.
“We have arranged for grief counselors to be available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Counseling services are available 24/7 by calling 1-800-531-0200,” Lacy wrote.
Lacy did not elaborate on the details of how Bukowiecki died in the initial email.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Buk’s family, friends, colleagues, staff, and fellow officers during this very difficult time,” Lacy wrote.
On Tuesday morning, HMG-CN updated their initial report about Bukowiecki death, and within minutes, at 10:07 a.m. Lacy sent out a second internal email updating the situation.
“It has been confirmed that Chief Bukowiecki died by suicide on August 18. It is natural to wonder why in this situation. We do not and may not ever know the reason. Suicide is rarely attributed to one reason or triggered by one event. This is a tragedy. The Cerritos College family is deeply saddened by the death of Chief Bukowiecki. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, staff, and fellow officers who are grieving,” Lacy said.
Lacy praised Bukowiecki on Tuesday afternoon in prepared remarks.
“He proudly served Cerritos College for 26 years, and as the Chief of Campus Police for 8 years. In 2012, ‘Buk’ was named the Outstanding Classified Manager of the Year. Chief Bukowiecki was known for his calm demeanor and professionalism. Whether he was addressing the Faculty Senate or student leadership, leading an investigation, or managing an emergency, he was composed and in control of the situation,” Lacy said.
Funeral services had not been announced as of Wednesday at noon.