Big Baloo. Gentle giant. Teddy bear. Not words often used to describe a veteran Oakland cop. But those attributes perfectly suited Sgt. Mark Dunakin, all 6-foot-plus of him.
Friends and colleagues say Dunakin was a man devoted to his wife, Angela, and children, Anthony, 15, Sienna, 13, and Patrick, 8, and equally dedicated to making Oakland a safer place.
He accomplished that not by force but by being a friendly, levelheaded guy who was quick with a joke and a smile and treated everyone with respect.
"He had sort of an innocent way about him. "... He was always very open, a kind of big teddy bear," recalled Sgt. Tim Nolan, who worked with Dunakin in patrol and homicide. "His world view was very positive. His view of people was positive."
Dunakin, 40, of Tracy, was fatally shot during a traffic stop Saturday. He worked for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office before joining the Oakland Police Department as a patrol officer in 1991. He served in criminal investigations and homicide, and taught academy recruits the intricacies of homicide and robbery investigations.
He transferred to the coveted traffic motor squad in 1996 and was thrilled to compete a few times with the motorcycle drill team.
"Motor guys, we have this bond. We always say God made two kinds of cops, motorcycle cops and those who wish they were," said Hayward police Sgt. Corey Quinn, who met Dunakin when the two departments teamed
"Every time he'd see me, he'd do the line from (the movie) 'Tommy Boy': 'Brothers don't shake hands, brothers hug,'"" Quinn said. "I'm 280 pounds, so it was quite a sight, two big old oops giving each other hugs. I can tell you that my life is better from knowing him."
Dunakin was born in Elyria, Ohio, and raised in Pleasanton. He played varsity football and played trombone in the marching band at Foothill High School, where he graduated in 1987. He was a sports fan, always rooting for his beloved Ohio State Buckeyes and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Everyone is in complete shock," said Beth Ann Roos of Tracy, who played flute in the band. She said Dunakin was a goofball who made the many road trips fun.
"I know a lot of people make fun of band," she said, "but they become your family because you're with them all the time. It just hits you a little harder."
Officer Jeff Thomason said they unearthed photos of the band and used them to rib Dunakin when he transferred to traffic.
"Traffic is one of those places where you have to have a thick skin, ... because we will find a weakness and go after it," Thomason said, grinning. "Mark kept trying to (convince us) he was really a football player."
As a teen working at Boy Scout camp, Dunakin was a gregarious role model for younger scouts who could have been headed for trouble, recalled Ian Clunies-Ross, 37.
"Because we had a little bit of idol worship when we were 11 or 12, it carried over to when we were 17 or 18," he said, voice cracking. "Mark was able to get you to be smart and do the right thing."
Dunakin is also survived by parents David and Karen Dunakin of Yorba Linda; and brother Christopher Dunakin and wife Shannon of Aliso Viejo.