While saving lives, Bo Taylor was killed in concert shooting
When Conservation Camp inmates and staff are dispatched to wildland fires, they work alongside crews and report to CDCR and CAL FIRE staff from throughout the state. During active fires, they work long hours to clear brush, building breaks to stop the spread of wildfire. When not on the fire line, they perform conservation work throughout California. While at camp, crew members train to stay in shape and be ready to respond.
Camps are close-knit community
Camp crews rely on one another to stay safe, resulting in fire camps being close-knit. Because of this, camps form bonds statewide.
When Lieutenant Derrick “Bo” Taylor was killed in October 2017 while helping save others during the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the shock of his death rippled through Ventura Conservation Camp, where Taylor served as camp commander, in addition to fire camps throughout the state.
At Oak Glen Conservation Camp, incarcerated firefighters found time in their packed schedules to write and rehearse four songs in honor of the Las Vegas victims. In addition to creating the tribute, they also wanted to share it with staff and the Yucaipa community. When they brought the idea to Camp Commander Lt. Keith Guillory, who started the music program for the inmates at Oak Glen several years ago and was Taylor’s colleague and friend, he quickly agreed.
“They were inspired, disturbed and moved by what happened,” Guillory said. “We felt a concert would be a great opportunity to bring awareness, and honor Lt. Taylor.”
Even though nobody would fault these hardworking firefighters for taking a rest after a long day at camp or on the fire line, the members of the Oak Glen Music Program were committed to the event, and to holding it, appropriately, on Memorial Day. That meant coming together after work and on the weekends to write, rehearse and perfect their songs. That teamwork and dedication, Guillory said, is what makes the music program important.
“Music is universal,” he said. “It crosses color lines, and it gives the inmate population the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, or enhance their craft.”
“The conservation program is rehabilitative also,” he added. “These guys work very hard during fire season fighting wildland fires, and this raises morale.”
Coming together to remember Bo Taylor
Oak Glen staff and the community also came together for the cause. Maintenance workers built a stage for the event. Meanwhile, Southern Camp Food Service Department prepared food for the day under the supervision of Assistant Correctional Food Manager Jepal Mangum. Also overseeing food prep were Lt. Keith Guillory and Supervising Correctional Cook Felicia Candelaria. Sgt. Christopher Pineiro’s organizational assistance was instrumental during the event.
The songs were debuted during the “Hear Our Voices,” which included performances by:
- The Oak Glen music program
- outside band Sovereign Artist
- guest DJ Derrick “D Dizzle” Williams from Moment of Stardom Entertainment.
During the event, incarcerated artists created beautiful paintings on-site, and displayed their one-of-a-kind woodwork.
Speaking as a united voice for the Oak Glen population, musicians Alejandro Borja, Ryan Stanzione and Derek Wilson described the tribute.
“We feel like it was a great opportunity to come together as a multiracial band, and to express our thoughts and feelings on mass shootings, with our tribute song ‘Hear Our Voice’ dedicated to Lt. Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor. We appreciated the opportunity to share our musical talents. At the same time, we rehabilitate ourselves, and set an example to our peers at our camp.”
Music brings people together
In an interview with KABC, Borja said the Oak Glen music program is truly rehabilitative, bringing together people across racial lines to share a universal love of music.
“This music program is outstanding,” he said. “It definitely keeps us out of trouble and helps us spend our time here in a much more positive way.”
Reflecting on the event, Guillory said it was an uplifting way to spend a day at camp, and he was grateful for the turnout. He was also glad that the crews weren’t called away to a fire, as that would have been the priority. Overall, it was a profound way to honor Taylor’s life.
“It is very humbling, and gratifying, to be able to bring this idea to fruition,” Guillory said. “He was a great leader, he was a great father, and he died a hero. He died saving lives. It is an honor to honor that man.”
By Krissi Khokhobashvili, CDCR PIO II