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Coroner: Body found at Gossamer Grove was deputy sheriff

Says fatal gunshot wound was self-inflicted


The body of a 16-year Kern County Sheriff's Department veteran was identified as the deceased man found in the Gossamer Grove area on Tuesday, May 21, the county Coroner's Office announced on Thursday. He died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the statement said.

The man was identified as Senior Deputy Benjamin Alan Michael Harmonson, who began work with the Sheriff's Office in 2008.

Harmonson, 36, was found in an unmarked patrol vehicle on Seventh Standard Road, and law enforcement was contacted. Later in the day, a procession of police vehicles led to Kern Medical Center. This usually occurs when a law enforcement officer has passed away.

This was confirmed late Wednesday, when the Sheriff's Office put out a statement saying that the unidentified man was a senior deputy.

The Coroner's Office also confirmed that the man died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The KCSO provided photos of Harmonson from a ceremony promoting him to senior deputy.

Meanwhile, the deputy's family is using a GoFundMe page asking for donations to pay for the man's funeral, suggesting the Sheriff's Department was ignoring "the gravity of his impact" on the law enforcement organization.

Whitney Winter, Harmonson's sister, wrote on

"Our hearts are heavy with the recent passing of Senior Sheriff Deputy, Benjamin Harmonson. Ben was a light in this world that burned so bright in many ways, but we lost his light on May 21, 2024 due to his silent battle with mental illness. For me and many others, the news of his passing knocked the breath from our lungs, it was such a shock. His silent battle ultimately took him away from his loved ones, and his absence will stay with us. Our minds cannot process how the Sheriff will not recognize the gravity of Ben's impact to the Kern County Sheriff organization, and their refusal to honor Ben with the service that he is owed is heartbreaking."

As of Monday afternoon, the effort has raised over $37,000; it had a goal of $8,000. Donations may be made on the page at


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