OCEANSIDE — Nearly 10 years after Oceanside police Officer Dan Bessant was gunned down while responding to a routine traffic stop, Jose Compre, 29, was arrested for his murder on Oct. 27.
This is the second related arrest for Compre. He was first booked for the murder and gang-related charges shortly after the Dec. 21, 2006 shooting, along with Meki Gaono and Penifoti Teaotui, who have both been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
During Compre’s preliminary hearing in 2008, the judge determined there was not enough evidence to place him at the crime scene, and charges were dismissed.
Recently new information has been brought to light to press charges.
Sgt. Rick Favela said the investigation has been ongoing since charges against Compre were dismissed.
“The investigation never really stopped, we didn’t get a break in the case until recently,”
Favela said. “We have a very strong case now.”
The shooting of the police officer shook the city.
Favela said he is very proud of the dogged determination of officers to solve the crime and bring justice to the Bessant family and community.
“It’s 10 years old, but we never gave up on it, for the family, we never gave up for them,” Favela said.
An annual memorial run is held to honor Officer Bessant each December. Fellow officers and community members run the three miles from the site of the shooting on Arthur Avenue to the police station on Mission Avenue. At the station a memorial plaque lists the names of Oceanside officers who have died in the line of duty.
A candle is lit at the foot of the plaque, and later a moment of silence is shared at the time the shooting occurred.
Bessant served as a community police officer in the back gate area, adjacent to Camp Pendleton, where he was shot. Favela said Bessant actively worked to improve the neighborhood.
Bessant, 25, was survived by his wife and 2-month-old son.
Favela said following the recent news of Compre’s arrest Steve Bessant, Dan’s father, had praise, handshakes and hugs for officers.
“This is a very personal case, it’s one of our own who was murdered,” Favela said. “Sometimes we do take it for granted that we do put our own life on the line every day, trying to protect the community at large.”
Compre has been arraigned and pled not guilty. A preliminary hearing date has not yet been set.