1960-1980



Patrolman Robert F. Jackson
Adams County


On the night of August 26, 1960, Patrolman Jackson received a call about a family disturbance involving a weapon. He got clearance to go "red light and siren" to reach his destination more quickly. As he approached the crest of a hill eastbound on 104th at the Valley Highway, he realized that the small foreign car in his path was full of young people. To avoid this car, he swerved in front of a large semi hauling bulk cement. He died at the scene of the accident from multiple injuries.

 

The emergency call that Jackson was answering turned out to be two teenage girls arguing. Their parents had called for an officer to try to scare the girls.

Source: Adams County Sheriff's Office.


 

Sheriff Merlin H. Koerner
Lincoln County


Sheriff Merlin Koerner came from a law enforcement family, and had been Sheriff of Lincoln County since 1932, when he was appointed to fulfill the term of his late father. On June 19, 1961, Koerner had gotten a search warrant from the County Judge and was driving through Hugo, when his patrol car collided with a cattle truck at the intersection of Highways 287/40 and Lake Street.

 

The patrol car traveled about 65 feet, crashed into a storefront and Koerner was ejected from the car. He died about four hours later from his severe injuries.


 

Deputy Sheriff John Clark
Eagle County


On the evening of July 12, 1961, Deputy Clark was involved in the pursuit of Delmar Spooner, who had already murdered Colorado State Patrol Lieutenant Hiram Short. The Eagle County Sheriff's Office blockaded the roadway. Spooner rammed one of the Sheriff's cars and went into the ditch. He fled up the hillside and was pursued by Clark. Spooner fired at Clark, hitting him in the face. Clark died five hours later in Leadville. Spooner was later captured, convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Colorado State Penitentiary.

Sources: Rocky Mountain News; Arizona Daily Star.



Patrolman Robert G. Beghtol
Arvada Police Department


Patrolman Robert Beghtol was a member of the Arvada Underwater Team. On July 28, 1961, during a scuba training session at a deep gravel pit near 60th and Tennyson, Beghtol incurred cramps from the cold water in the pit. Then, his diving gear became entangled in rubble at the bottom of the pit and he drowned.

Twenty years earlier, Beghtol's grandfather Lee had become Arvada's first uniformed police officer.


 

Detective Darrell J. Suer
Denver Police Department


On the evening of March 11, 1962, Detective Suer was working off-duty in uniform at the Regis College field house. Following the tournament, Suer and his wife went to a cafe for a bite to eat. Soon after, three armed men burst through the front door of the cafe. Suer jumped up and tried to prevent the robbery. He fired a shot at one of the gunmen, striking him in the stomach. One of the other gunmen shot Suer, who fell in a pool of blood near the kitchen door. The two other bandits dashed out of the cafe and escaped.

 

Suer and the wounded gunman, Paul Martinez, were taken to Denver General Hospital. Suer died upon arrival from a gunshot wound in the heart, and Martinez died the next day.

 

The next day, four suspects were arrested: Jerry Stilley, Joseph Scheer, Mrs. Virginia Fujiwara and James Sides, who all had criminal records. Fujiwara was released and no further charges were brought against her. Sides was questioned and released. Stilley was sentenced to life at hard labor for his part in the murder, and Scheer was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Source: Code 109.


 

Patrolman Carl Knobbe
Denver Police Department


Shortly after midnight on September 12, 1962, Patrolman Knobbe was on routine patrol when he heard of a robbery and stolen vehicle. He soon saw a car that matched the description of the stolen vehicle. He gave chase and approached the car after it lost control and crashed into a tree in the 2100 block of South Williams. He did not use the radio to notify police of the chase or crash. When Knobbe walked up to the passenger side of the car and opened the front door, Michael Bell, an ex-convict who was on parole, put the barrel of a shotgun in the officer's stomach and fired. Knobbe crawled on his hands and knees toward the car and around to the front bumper and collapsed. An eyewitness, Richard Matt, called the police. Bell walked over to Knobbe and fired three more shots, only one of which hit the officer.

 

The Denver Police Department launched the largest manhunt in Denver history with more than 200 policemen, off-duty officers, and volunteers. Knobbe was an above-average patrolman and well-liked by his fellow officers. Bell was finally spotted by rookie officer Pennel, waiting for a bus. Pennel saw a gun in Bell's pocket and he fired a warning shot. Bell surrendered and confessed and said he'd been tempted to shoot four other officers.

 

Bell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, a jury found him guilty and sane. He was sentenced and confined to the State Prison, awaiting execution during the week of December 2, 1963. But his sentence was changed to life imprisonment. Nearly 15 years later, Bell attempted to escape and was shot and killed.

Source: Code 109.


 

Patrolman Paul Major
Denver Police Department


On January 20, 1965, Patrolman Major was in a police car with Patrolman Albert H. Peterson. The two stopped a car for a traffic violation and found it was stolen. Several occupants jumped out of the car and fled in different directions. Major chased one of the fleeing occupants on foot. Major apparently chased the man into the alley at the rear of 60 South Broadway, where he was shot twice, once in chest and once in the back of his head.

 

Phillip Gonzales was soon arrested in his apartment after passersby told police they saw two men enter the building. As officers entered Gonzales's apartment, they found him attempting to flush a transparent Halloween mask down a toilet and saw him throw a nickel plated revolver out a window. Major was dead on arrival at Denver General Hospital.

 

Gonzales was held for investigation of homicide, later charged, and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Colorado State Prison on June 18, 1965.

Source: Code 109.


 

Deputy Sheriff James W. Mitchell
Larimer County


On July 15, 1968, Deputy Mitchell was eastbound on rain-slicked highway 14, about one-half mile east of Laporte. He attempted to pass another vehicle driven by Stanley Dolan. The patrol car broadsided Dolan's car. Both vehicles came to rest on the north shoulder of the highway and were demolished. Mitchell was dead on arrival at Poudre Valley Memorial Hospital.

Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan.


 

Patrolman Merle E. Nading Jr.
Denver Police Department


On Sunday, October 3, 1971, Patrolman Nading was attempting to quiet a disturbance in the parking lot of Clark's Diner at 2201 East Colfax Ave. He observed a man and a woman quarreling and arrested the man on a disturbance charge. Patrons of the nearby Shapes Lounge gathered in the parking lot and began to harass Nading. Off-duty officer Robert Wallis came to assist Nading. Nading gave him custody of the suspect and started walking around the back of his patrol car to inform the dispatcher of the growing crowd. One man in the crowd threw a punch at Nading, and when he started to arrest the man, a second man interfered and Nading grabbed him. While Nading was holding the second man in a headlock, the man reached around the officer's body, snatched his gun and fired once. Nading was shot in the back. When Wallis saw Nading fall, he let go of his suspect and went to Nading's aid. All of the suspects in the parking lot then fled.

 

Nading was pronounced dead upon arrival at Denver General Hospital. Nading's slayer was described as a black man in mid 20s, about 5' 8" and weighing 155 pounds. A manhunt resulted, and Kenneth Ray Green was apprehended in Texas. He was returned to Colorado, where he stood trial for the murder of Officer Nading. He was acquitted, and many officers and the Denver Police Union were highly critical of the manner in which the district attorney's office handled this case.

Source: Code 109.


 

Officer James A. Chew
Steamboat Springs Police Department


On July 28, 1972, Officer Chew was involved in the pursuit of a stolen vehicle, and a subsequent foot chase of the vehicle's driver. After Chew had apprehended the driver and was searching him, the officer was disarmed and shot with his service revolver. Officer Chew was declared dead before the arrival of the ambulance. The suspect was later found to be an escapee from the State of Washington. The suspect was tried and found guilty of Second Degree Murder and sentenced to the State Penitentiary in Canon City.

Source: Routt County Sheriff's Department.


 

Deputy Sheriff Rodolpho F. Sanchez
Costilla County


When Deputy Sanchez responded to a disturbance call at a tavern where fighting had been reported, he was fatally shot with a .22 pistol. Four suspects fled the scene in a pickup truck and were later apprehended in Espanola, New Mexico. Two fellow officers were wounded by a knife and a .22 pistol. One suspect, a white male, was charged with the killing. A jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Source: Costilla County Sheriff's Office.


 

Patrolman Danny R. Barnes
Adams County


On May 31, 1973, Patrolman Danny Barnes was driving when he was hit head on by a motorist driving the wrong way on the westbound ramp from Interstate 25 onto the Denver-Boulder Turnpike. Barnes was on duty as an undercover officer. He died at 12:25am on June 1, 1973.

Source: Adams County Sheriff's Office.


 

Sergeant George G. Rosenbaugh
Colorado State Patrol


On June 19, 1973, Sgt. Rosenbaugh called in service at 12:48pm and proceeded to Durango to attend a district meeting. Later in the evening he returned to Cortez, and following a conversation with two officers from the Cortez Police Department, was found unconscious at the intersection of 1st and Washington in Cortez by Officer Hinton. Rosenbaugh was still in service and in Patrol Car 239. He was removed to Southwest Memorial Hospital by the Cortez unit, and at approximately midnight June 19, 1973 was pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack.

Source: Colorado State Patrol.


 

Police Patrolman Stephen D. Hensley
Delta Police Department


In the early morning hours of August 11, 1973, Police Patrolman Hensley and Police Patrolman Ralph Curfman pursued a speeding motorcyclist, Leo Olivas. Olivas led the patrolmen east of Delta on Colorado 92 to Read, where he turned off and went east into a hayfield. The two officers pursued Olivas on foot until he fell down, rolled over and fired one shot at the two patrolmen.

 

Neither patrolman was hit by the shots. Curfman then ran to a nearby house to summon help. During this time, Olivas overcame Hensley and forced him to drive toward Hotchkiss. While driving at the west edge of Hotchkiss, Hensley jumped Olivas who was beside him on the front seat, and the patrol car rolled into a ditch.

 

Sometime during the altercation, Hensley was shot once in the side and died ten minutes after the patrol car accident and just before an ambulance arrived at the scene. Olivas was apprehended without further gunfire and placed in the Delta County Jail.

Source: Delta Police Department.



Officer Gary D. Mills
Boulder Police Department


On August 25, 1973, Officer Gary Mills and another officer were finishing up a disturbance call in a trailer park at 3003 Valmont. As the officers were leaving the trailer, William J. Abshire emerged from another nearby trailer, carrying a shotgun and yelling obscenities. Abshire opened fire on the policemen and Officer Mills received a fatal wound to the back.

 

The reason for Abshire's behavior is a mystery, since he had nothing to do with the disturbance call the police officers were handling. Abshire was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10-40 years imprisonment.


 

Corporal Thomas M. Hanson
Pueblo Police Department


On December 29, 1973, Corporal Hanson entered a 7-11 store during an armed robbery and was shot by the robber. The bullet entered his shoulder and lodged in his lung, killing him.



Officer Gale E. Emerson
Durango Police Department


On August 24, 1974, while assisting at the scene of a fire on Main Avenue, Officer Gale Emerson was killed when a wall collapsed.

Source: Durango Police Department.


 

Patrolman William E. Smith
Denver Police Department


On January 23, 1975, police were called to the Pier 11 Lounge (3730 Federal Boulevard) by employee Mary Sue Apodaca, who said two men in the bar were causing trouble. The two men, identified as David Lee Bridges and James A. Lang Jr., had been refused service in the bar. The pair left the bar and then later returned to rob the establishment, armed with a .357 magnum pistol and a .22 caliber rifle with the stock cut off. The two forced Miss Apodaca and three patrons to lie on the floor, during which time one of the men reportedly kicked Miss Apodaca and poured hot coffee on her. They then took wallets from the three patrons and money from the cash drawer, and fired several shots into the walls and glasses behind the bar.

 

Patrolman Smith and his partner, Patrolman Frias, were among the officers responding to the disturbance call. Neither officer knew about the stickup. Smith got out of the car before Frias and walked to the south door of the lounge. He opened the door and as he started in, two shots were fired and he fell, mortally wounded. The gunman, later identified as Bridges, ran out of the door and Frias shot two or three times at him. Frias and another officer, Aaron Burroughs, lost sight of Bridges during the chase and an intensive search started.

 

Bridges was found between two small sheds off the alley in the 3800 block between Federal Boulevard and Eliot Street. Ambulances took William Smith, Mary Sue Apodaca and David Bridges to Denver General Hospital, where Smith was later pronounced dead. Bridges was shot three times, with bullets hitting the thigh, spleen, liver, chest and abdomen, but he survived his injuries.

 

Charges were later filed against Bridges and Lang for first-degree murder. Lang was charged because a death occurred while he was participating in the commission of a felonious act. Both were also charged with armed robbery and conspiracy.

Source: Code 109.


 

Officer Bernard L. Carter
Colorado Springs Police Department


On the afternoon of May 14, 1975, Officer Carter and a civilian observer had been assisting patrol officers as they tried to control a riot involving 250 students at Irving Junior High. After remaining on the scene several minutes, Officer Carter advised dispatch that the riot appeared to be subsiding and he cleared the area. A few moments after the last transmission, the Colorado Springs Police Department Communications Center was advised of some type of aviation crash on South Carefree Circle near the intersection of Valencia Road. When assistance arrived on scene, it was discovered that the CSPD helicopter had crashed, killing both Officer Carter and the civilian observer.

Source: Colorado Springs Police Department.


 

Agent Jack R. Coler
Federal Bureau of Investigation


Agent Coler was killed on June 26, 1975, in an ambush at Oglala, South Dakota, while on official duty. He was on special assignment in that area, assigned to the Denver Division of the FBI.


 

Motorcycle Officer Dennis J. Ives
Colorado Springs Police Department


On the morning of August 7, 1975, Officer Ives was en route to assist in the Pageant Parade of the Rockies. While traveling southbound on I-25, just south of Uintah, Ives was involved in an accident. His motorcycle left the right side of the roadway, coming to rest in an area hidden from the roadway and nearby homes. The accident was not discovered until nearly 10:30am. When officers arrived on the scene to investigate, they found that Ives was dead. It was later determined that the accident happened sometime after 6:00am and it is believed that Ives had been alive until approximately 8:00am.

Source: Colorado Springs Police Department.


 

Detective Donald L. Debruno
Denver Police Department


On the evening of December 10, 1975, in front of the Continental Trailways bus depot (1669 Broadway), Detective Debruno and Detective David L. Haley were shot while attempting to arrest Roy Allen Embry. Embry was wanted on a murder and assault to a police officer warrant issued in Canada, and theft and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrants issued in Kentucky.

 

Debruno suffered a gunshot wound in the chest and was taken to Denver General Hospital where he died shortly after arrival in the emergency room. Haley was shot in the stomach but survived his injuries. Embry, who was shot by Haley during the altercation was taken to St. Joseph Hospital and he also survived his injuries.

Source: Code 109.


 

Detective Sergeant Donald R. Laabs
Manitou Springs Police Department


On December 18, 1975, Detective Sergeant Laabs left the police station at approximately 8:00pm en route to his residence in Security, Colorado. Laabs was seen entering the US24 Bypass on-ramp toward Colorado Springs, which would be his normal route of travel. Laabs and his vehicle was found at approximately 10:30pm in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25, approximately 100 yards north of the Arvada Street exit, by a citizen passerby. Further investigation revealed that Laabs had been shot at close range at least 8 times with a .22 caliber revolver. Laabs was pronounced dead at the scene.

To this date, investigations by the Colorado Springs Police Department have not revealed any leads in the case.

Source: Manitou Springs Police Department.


 

Traffic Officer Harry L. Allen
Colorado Springs Police Department


On the evening of December 22, 1975, Officer Allen had been dispatched to a single car rollover accident at the intersection of Platte Avenue and Powers Boulevard. At the time, traffic investigators’ cars were not equipped with overhead lights and the intersection was dark and unlit. The victim of the accident had been transported away and Officer Allen remained on the scene to investigate. As Officer Allen was taking measurements of the accident scene, he was struck and killed by a vehicle traveling southbound on Powers. Police Traffic Lieutenant Emmet Butler said that Allen was carried on the hood of the car for at least 150 feet before he fell to the pavement.

The driver of the vehicle was later cited for careless driving. Several weeks later, she pleaded guilty and was fined $25.00 for the accident.

Source: Colorado Springs Police Department.


  

Officer Michael O. Conley
Estes Park Police Department


Officer Conley died in the Big Thompson Flood of July 31, 1976. Conley was on one of his days off and had gone to Loveland to pick up his wife from the bus depot. As he drove up the Big Thompson Canyon enroute to Estes Park, he became aware of the dangerous situation. In the general vicinity of the Waltonia Motel, Conley, on his own volition and while off duty, rescued approximately 60 people from the area before losing his own life in the flood.

Two years after the flood, a memorial was dedicated at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon, honoring Officer Conley and Colorado State Patrol Sergeant Willis Hugh Purdy.

Source: Estes Park Police Department.


 

Patrolman Jameson M. Longsworth
Greeley Police Department


On October 13, 1962, Patrolman Longsworth was dispatched to a family disturbance. While he was attempting to mediate, the male party took a .22 caliber revolver from a drawer and shot Longsworth once in the neck. Longsworth was paralyzed from the neck down, and as a direct result of this paralysis, died an untimely death on November 22, 1976.

Source: Greeley Police Department.


 

Patrol Sergeant Wayne G. Bryant
Douglas County


On March 2, 1978, Patrol Sergeant Wayne Bryant died of a heart attack while on duty. No violence was involved with his death.

Source: Douglas County Sheriff's Office.


 

Sheriff Virgil Mason
San Juan County


On December 2, 1978, a massive winter storm had hit the San Juan Mountains. Many snow slides had occurred, one of which had blocked the road to a mine. Sheriff Mason was on his way to get the miners down safely when he had a heart attack and died.

Source: San Juan County Sheriff's Office.



Sheriff Robert C. Watson
Larimer County


On January 5, 1979, Sheriff Watson died of a heart attack during the interrogation of a homicide suspect. He died at the Sheriff's office in Fort Collins, his death an apparent result of job stress. He was 59.

Source: Larimer County Sheriff's Office.


 

Officer Walter M. Northey
Arvada Police Department


On August 11, 1979, Officer Northey and a back-up, Officer Westerdahl, made a traffic stop on two motorcycles in the 7500 block of Wadsworth Boulevard. Northey noticed a revolver in the waistband of one of the riders, John Swisher. Northey arrested Swisher and put him in the rear seat of his patrol car.

 

As Northey was standing behind the open driver's door preparing to enter the patrol car, he was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by John Hostetler. The Hostetler vehicle continued north for 47 feet with Northey atop the hood where it collided with the motorcycle on the rear of a tow truck. Northey was then thrown an additional 45 feet, coming to rest underneath Officer Westerdahl's patrol car.

 

Two days later, on August 13, 1979, Officer Northey died at Lutheran Hospital from the injuries sustained in the accident. Northey had been with the Arvada Police Department for 1½ years at the time of his death.

Source: Arvada Police Department; The Denver Post.


 

Agent Perry S. Watkins
U. S. Secret Service


On January 14, 1980, at about 2:50pm, Joseph Hugh Ryan walked into the United States Secret Service Office at 1660 Lincoln Street in Denver. For the next few minutes, Agents Daniel Simpkins and Andrew Gruler listened and talked to Ryan, who rambled incoherently from one subject to another, often making no sense.

 

Ryan had identified himself during the discussion, and with this information, a background check was quickly made with headquarters in Washington, D.C. The check revealed, among other things, that Ryan had a history of making threats against U.S. Presidents, had been arrested at the White House gate for illegal acts, had a background of mental instability and had been committed to the V.A. Hospital in Tampa, Florida in September 1979 where he was diagnosed as dangerous, and in March 1979, was found to be armed with a .357 Magnum handgun during an interview with a Secret Service Agent.

 

Knowing the above information, Agent Simpkins asked Ryan if he was armed, to which he replied he was. Agents Simpkins and Gruler watched him closely, but could not see a weapon. They continued to engage Ryan in conversation while a call for assistance was made to the Denver Police Department.

 

At about 3:19pm, Agent Watkins walked out of his office to the reception counter gate, moving toward the main entrance door. Suddenly, Ryan jumped from his seat and asked Watkins what he was doing, while reaching with his right hand to draw a Colt .45 automatic from its concealed position under his heavy corduroy coat. Watkins immediately moved toward Ryan, grabbing for the weapon in an effort to disarm him. Two shots were fired by Ryan and struck Watkins. Watkins managed to draw his weapon after being shot and fired a single shot before collapsing. Agent Gruler also fired four shots and Ryan dropped his gun as he slid down the wall to the floor.

Agent Watkins died later that evening. Ryan, who was struck by all five bullets fired at him, died that afternoon.

Source: U. S. Secret Service.



Patrolman Augustus J. Perreira
Colorado Springs Police Department


On April 12, 1980, Officer Perreira had stopped at the 7-11 at 2555 Delta Drive, unaware that a disturbance had been called in. While inside, Perreira was contacted by the store clerk who requested that he speak to a male who was later identified as Seth Buckmaster. Buckmaster had been causing a disturbance. Perreira spoke to Buckmaster, who appeared somewhat disturbed, and then escorted him outside. As Buckmaster began walking toward the door, he was heard to say that he was not going to be taken to jail. As they reached the exterior of the building, Buckmaster produced a weapon and shot Perreira. Perreira returned fire, wounding the suspect, but the officer's wound was fatal.

Buckmaster was later tried and found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to the Colorado State Hospital, where he remains to this day.

Source: Colorado Springs Police Department.


 

Officer Perry Messina
Federal Heights Police Department


On September 3, 1980, Officer Messina was on an emergency run to assist another officer in a pursuit. He had the lights and sirens operating on his patrol car. When he entered the intersection at West 84th and Federal, he was hit broadside by a pickup truck driven by Robert Moran. The pickup was moving on a green light. Messina was pinned in his patrol car and died at the scene from head and internal injuries.

Source: Rocky Mountain News.


 

We welcome any additions, updates or corrections to the Memorial Book Online. If you have any reliable information to contribute, please contact: CSP Motor Carrier Safety, 15200 South Golden Road, Golden, CO 80401. (303) 273-1875.

 

Colorado State Patrol Memoriam

Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial Historic Wing

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc.

 

Return to Top