Firefight Friday

Newhall Incident/Shootout/Massacre, Firefight Friday

In the early hours of April 6, 1970, a series of events occurred that brought about the largest single day loss of life for California law enforcement. From start to finish, it took 5 minutes. At approximately 2355 hrs of April 5, two CHOP officers, Walt Frago and Roger Gore initiated a traffic stop on Jack Twining and Bobby Davis.  They were initially compliant, but minutes later opened fire on the two officers, killing them. Two more CHP officers arrived, James Pence and George Alleyn. They engaged the suspects in a shootout but were also ultimately shot and killed. A nearby citizen, Gary Kness, Marine and bad-ass hero, attempted to assist by grabbing a fallen officer’s weapon and returning fire but he eventually ran out of ammunition and was forced to hide in a ditch. Eventually a third officer arrived on scene and the suspects fled.

One of the suspects, Bobby Davis was located later and arrested. Twinings, however, was able to elude capture until he broke into a home and took the homeowner hostage. LA Sheriff’s Department was able to negotiate the release of the hostage. Twinings subsequently killed himself. Davis was sentenced to death, but California is California, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He killed himself in 2009.

Several procedural changes arose from the incident. The officers had trained with .38 caliber rounds while they carried .357. The difference in recoil was substantial. There was also argument that speed-loaders would have assisted the officers in getting back in the fight quicker. Standardization of weapons and ammunition among officers became more prominent.  Speed-loaders were soon approved and issued. New procedures for arresting high risk individuals also came about. Bullet-proof vests, not being standard issue at the time, were not worn by the responding officers. 3 of the 4 officers died from wounds that would’ve likely been prevented with effective body armor.

 

Officer Walter C Frago, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5056-officer-walter-c-frago

Officer Roger D Gore, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5590-officer-roger-d-gore

Officer James E Pence, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/10509-officer-james-e-pence-jr

Officer George M Alleyn, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/1153-officer-george-m-alleyn

All four had less than 2 years on the job. All told, 4 widows and seven children laid their heroes to rest.

These 4 men did not die in vain. The lessons learned from their deaths have saved countless officer’s lives in the last several decades.

Memorial Monday

A Brother Was Killed Today

I’ve been in this job for almost 10 years. I’ve been around cops since the day I was born. I grew up hearing stories from my Dad about cops he knew who had been killed in the line of duty. Men he respected. Men he admired. Real cop’s cops. The kind of men he loved working along side. In my 32 years, I’ve never known a cop who was killed in the line of duty. Maybe that’s a blessing in itself. All the men my Dad talked about died years ago. All the cops I heard about in the news died so far from here. The cops that died near me always died in the city. I always knew it could happen here. I’m not stupid. But a part of me thought we were too lucky, too blessed to have that happen.

Today, Deputy Jacob Pickett, Boone County, Indiana, was shot while in foot pursuit of a wanted suspect. He had no chance of recovery. I’ve known Jacob for years. We went to school together. We worked together briefly. Even after he left, I responded to a call and, lo and behold, he was on scene. I tried to talk him into coming back to us. I wanted him with us, in our home county, but he was too loyal to Boone and too loyal to his K9. We shook hands that night and parted ways with a promise to grab a beer sometime. We never did.

He leaves behind a wife and two children. He left behind a broken hearted department. He leaves behind a community recently rocked by tragedy.

He also left behind a legacy. A legacy of bravery and dedication. A legacy of hard work and determination. And a physical legacy in the organs he promised to donate if this ever occurred. Somewhere today, lives were forever changed for the better because Jake was a giver. Tonight, Jake’s lungs will help someone breathe a little easier and his heart will beat in someone else’s chest, continuing his legacy of service. If only his liver could go to his brothers, who will no doubt join me in a solemn moment of reflection and an evening drinking to his memory.

In a true testament to the men and women of this profession, his coworkers will don their uniforms tomorrow, before the sun comes up. They’ll pull their vest on, buckle their duty belt, and holster their weapon. They’ll patrol the same streets where it all started today. They’ll do the same job Jake did today. And god willing, they’ll come home. Why do they do it? At some point in our lives, we’ve all realized how important the job is. If we don’t do it, if guys like Jacob don’t do it, who will? We don’t want a world without Deputy Pickett’s willing to give it all for the greater good. And we better be damn thankful.

Rest Easy, Jake. Let’s grab a beer sometime.

Memorial Monday

Deputy Floyd Tommy Settles, Marion County, IN. Memorial Monday

Deputy Floyd T Settles, a 26 year old Marion County Deputy, was killed responding to a bank robbery 46 years ago this week. This one hits a little closer to home because it’s literally, closer to home. I’ve met friends and family of his over the years and even now, the heartbreak of his loss lingers.

Deputy Settles was a Marine with two combat tours to Vietnam. He came home to his hometown and joined the Marion County Jail before transitioning to road patrol after a few years. He was a member of the SCUBA dive team.

On the morning of February 24th, at approximately 1100hrs, two men entered a bank and disarmed a private security guard. They rounded up the occupants, moved them behind the counters and began restraining them. Along the way, someone tripped a silent alarm. When the call went out, Deputy Settles responded immediately.

Upon his arrival, he was seen by the bank robbers. They took up positions of concealment and waited for him to enter. Deputy Settles bravely entered the bank alone to confront the suspects. Seeing one, he was remembered as shouting, “Drop it, you’re covered!” He was answered with a barrage of gunfire. The suspects then fled in a stolen vehicle with a hostage from inside the bank.

The second officer on scene had seen Deputy Settles enter the bank. He heard the shots and ran in only to find Settles already wounded. He called for assistance. Despite first aid rendered on scene and quick transport to a local hospital Deputy Settles succumbed to his wounds.

The suspects fled, eventually releasing the hostage by having her jump from the vehicle. Both were subsequently captured, convicted, and sentenced to life. Large letter writing campaigns to the parole boards over the years have thus far ensured no early release.

Deputy Settles was laid to rest with a 2 1/2 mile procession through the city of Indianapolis on a beautiful February day. A 10 minute radio silence was observed in honor of his life and service.

Deputy Settles left behind an ex-wife, his parents, 3 siblings, and an unborn child.

Take a moment this Monday to remember the bravery and sacrifice of Marion County Deputy Floyd Tommy Settles. A man who when he knew people were in danger chose to make entry into a dangerous situation to save lives. May his memory be a blessing.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/12042-deputy-floyd-thomas-settles

http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPS/IMPD/About/Memoriam/Pages/FloydSettles.aspx

Memorial Monday

Officer Gail Cobb, Memorial Monday

Standing just 5 feet tall, Gail Cobb was only 24 when she was killed in the line of duty while working for the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. A single mom, she surprised everyone when she applied to be a police officer. Her father was a correctional officer and her mother was a crossing guard. Gail could only apply after minimum height standards were lowered. Although she was small, she was described as hard-working and well liked. She was one of 13 females in her 34 member academy class.

Officer Cobb was the first female police officer to be shot and killed while patrolling in the line of duty in the United States. On September 20, 1974, Cobb was just 6 months into her probationary period. Plainclothes officers had thwarted a bank robbery but the suspects had fled. Shortly after, Cobb was alerted to the location of an armed man in a garage. She courageously responded and located him inside. She ordered him to place his hands against a wall but as she reached for her radio, the suspect turned and fired his weapon. The bullet went through her wrist, destroying a wrist watch she had received from her mother, through her police radio, and then into her heart. She died at the scene. Both suspects were eventually apprehended.

Cobb was not buried in uniform. Instead she was buried in a green dress with styled hair, dolled up makeup and gold hoop earrings. Forbidden by uniform regulations, these special touches allowed her to be buried with a personal flair.

May we take a moment to remember Officer Gail Cobb, the family she left behind, and the legacy she leaves for us to carry on.