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Fallen Heroes

 

In memory of our Fallen Officers
Sergeant Morris Van Dyck Hubbard

#21

Sergeant Morris Van Dyck Hubbard

Killed on July 12, 1924, by a hostage-taking gunman in a close range shoot-out.

On July 12, 1924, at approximately 1820 hours, a citizen reported a man forcibly taking a female from a residence on East Julian Street. Sergeant Hubbard, a seven year veteran and Officer Murphy, both plain clothes detectives, responded to East Julian Street.

 

Sergeant Hubbard and Officer Murphy located the suspect and the victim at Julian and 15th Streets.   Sergeant Hubbard drew his gun and ordered the suspect to surrender. The suspect turned and fired a single shot. Neither detective was struck. Sergeant Hubbard, Officer Murphy and Suspect Mays were then involved in a shootout.  As a result of the shootout, Sergeant Hubbard was struck in the abdomen by Suspect Mays. The suspect was struck in the wrist and chest and died as a result of his injuries.

 

Sergeant Hubbard was transported to San Jose Hospital. Prior to surgery Sgt. Hubbard was conscience, however, later died in surgery. 

 

Sergeant Hubbard was the first San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer John Buck

#10

Officer John Buck

Died on April 5, 1933, from gunshot wounds suffered  five weeks earlier while attempting to apprehend  armed robbery suspects in a car.

On February 27, 1933, at approximately 2040 hours, Officer John Buck and Officer Clinton Moon were patrolling in the area of Julian Street and North 12th Street in one of only four radio-equipped police cars the San Jose Police Department operated in 1933.  They noticed a suspicious vehicle occupied by two males that Officer Buck believed was associated with an armed robbery that occurred the previous night.  At South Market Street and Post Street, they ordered the car to pull over. The car immediately pulled to the curb.

 

Officer Buck approached the vehicle while Officer Moon sat in the driver’s seat of the patrol car, calling in the stop. Officer Buck reached the passenger side of the car, at which time he started to open the passenger door. At this point, the suspect in the passenger seat fired three rounds from a revolver at Officer Buck. He was hit in the left arm, chest and the shoulder. As he was going down, he grabbed the suspect and pulled him from the car and they both went to the ground. As the suspect got to his feet, Officer Moon fired and hit him four times.

 

Officer Buck was severely injured, but was still alive when he arrived at the hospital. One of the rounds that hit him punched through his badge and tore through his lung. Another round that hit his shoulder bone deflected down and severed his spine. Officer Buck struggled and hung to life for five weeks. In spite of the efforts of doctors, Officer Buck died from his wounds on April 5th, 1933 at 6:25 PM.

 

Officer Buck’s wife made a public appeal for the return of her husband’s badge. It had been ripped off by the bullet during the shooting. It was assumed that the badge was picked up as a souvenir by someone at the scene. The badge was never returned.

Officer John J. Covalesk

#70

Officer John J. Covalesk

Killed November 15, 1950. Shot by an armed burglar who Covalesk found burglarizing a business.

On the night of November 15, 1950, Officer Covalesk was working a midnight walking beat in the downtown area. At approximately 0500 hours, he called dispatch to check in as he was required, every hour, to ensure his safety.

 

At approximately 0540 hours, Officer Covalesk located a door at 42 East San Fernando that had been pried open. As Officer Covalesk entered the building, the suspect, who had been hiding inside, opened fire.  Officer Covalesk was struck twice in the chest. As he went down, Officer Covalesk returned fire striking the suspect twice.  The suspect then stood over the still-conscious Officer Covalesk and fired one more round killing him. 

 

The suspect was taken into custody approximately 18 hours later in Emeryville.  He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

 

Officer Covalesk was the third San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

Officer Richard E. Huerta

#47

Officer Richard E. Huerta

Killed on August 6, 1970, by gunshots from a pedestrian intent  on randomly killing any officer he encountered that evening.

On August 6, 1970, at approximately 0130 hours, Officer Huerta made a traffic stop at 11th and Empire Streets. Officer Huerta directed the driver he had stopped to sit in the passenger seat of the police car while he sat in the driver’s seat to write the ticket. At this time, another vehicle had stopped behind Officer Huerta with its lights off. The suspect then approached Officer Huerta’s police vehicle from the passenger side and through the passenger window fired 6 rounds and fled the scene. Officer Huerta was struck multiple times.

 

The driver Officer Huerta had stopped rushed to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident. San Jose officers responded to the scene and found Officer Huerta seriously wounded. Officer Huerta was transported to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

 

During the search for the suspect, San Jose Officers located him in a backyard on 12th Street and took him into custody. The suspect confessed to shooting Officer Huerta and was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

 

Officer Huerta’s badge has been placed in front row of the briefing room as a dedication to him.

 

Officer Huerta was the fourth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer Robert A. White

#2325

Officer Robert A. White

Killed on January 27, 1985, by electrocution while investigating an accident in which a motorist struck a high voltage transformer.

On January 27, 1985, Officer White was working the Midnight Shift.  At 0200 hours, a vehicle accident occurred on Tumble Way at Old Piedmont Road.  A vehicle drove into the side yard of 3694 Tumble Way and struck a large metal box knocking it off its concrete base.  In that instant, the lights on Tumble Way went dark.

 

At 0226 hours, Communications broadcast the accident.  Officer White answered the call even though it was not his district.  He was the first to arrive and began investigating the accident. Shortly after arriving, Officer White updated dispatch that it was a minor non-injury accident and he was “Code 4”.  That would be his final transmission.

 

The large metal box that had been struck by the vehicle was a 12,000 volt PG&E transferring station used as backup power for the entire neighborhood.  The equipment had been designed to shut down in the event of any damage.  It malfunctioned and remained “hot” electrifying the pickup.  As Officer White touched the front bumper of the vehicle, he became a grounding point for thousands of volts and he was electrocuted.

 

Two nearby citizens ran to the patrol car and got on the radio to call for help. They then got the wood baton and a stick and pulled Officer White’s body away from the vehicle and started CPR. In spite of the efforts of citizens, fellow beat officers, paramedics and doctors, Officer White was pronounced dead at 0359 hours.

 

Officer White was the fifth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer Henry Bunch

#2076

Officer Henry Bunch

Killed on July 29, 1985, by an intoxicated arrestee who  wrestled the officer's weapon away and shot him.

On July 29th, 1985, at approximately 0900 hrs, Officers Bunch and Officer Bridges stopped a suspected drunk driver. The driver, identified as suspect Robert Ordonez, was taken into custody without incident and transported to AIB (a processing center for drunk drivers).  Suspect Ordonez had a long history of violent behavior to include drug convictions and armed robbery.

 

Once at AIB, Officer Bridges secured his gun in the gun locker and Officer Bunch remained armed. As they began to process the suspect, the officers realized that they needed additional paperwork from their patrol car. Officer Bridges retrieved the paperwork while Officer Bunch remained inside of AIB. While inside AIB, suspect Ordonez attacked Officer Bunch and disarmed him. Officer Bridges heard a gunshot and ran back into AIB. Officer Bridges saw the suspect standing over Officer Bunch and holding a revolver.

 

Unarmed, Officer Bridges attacked the suspect and a fight for the gun ensued. During the struggle, suspect Ordonez was shot and killed. 

 

Officer Bunch sustained a single gunshot wound and was the sixth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer Robert Wirht

#1596

Officer Robert Wirht

Killed on September 8, 1988, while on a police motorcycle pursuing a speeding motorist, and then being struck by another errant motorist in traffic.

On September 8, 1988, Officer Wirht was assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Unit as a motor officer. At approximately 2000 hours, Officer Wirht was conducting radar enforcement on San Felipe Road and Fowler Road. Officer Wirht detected a car traveling north on San Felipe Road at an excessive speed and decided to take enforcement action.

 

Moments earlier, another officer conducted a vehicle stop just north of Officer Wirht’s position. As traffic approached the scene of the first car stop, drivers began to slow in order to pass safely. Unfortunately, a driver traveling in the number two lane did not observe the traffic slowing and in a last minute attempt to avoid a rear-end collision, the driver veered into the number one lane. Officer Wirht attempted to stop, but his motorcycle collided with her vehicle.

 

As a result of the collision, Officer Wirht suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead
at the hospital shortly after.

 

Officer Wirht was the seventh San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

Officer Gene R. Simpson

#1409

Officer Gene R. Simpson

Killed on January 20, 1989, by a mentally ill pedestrian who wrestled  and obtained the officer's handgun and shot him.

On January 20, 1989, Officer Gene Simpson was assigned to work the downtown area on Day Shift. Officer Simpson was filling in as an overtime pay car. Shortly before noon, Officer Simpson received a call of a homeless male acting strangely and causing a disturbance at Fifth Street and Santa Clara. 

 

Upon his arrival, Officer Simpson made contact with the suspect. The suspect immediately attacked Officer Simpson. During the struggle, they both fell to the ground. The suspect was able to get the gun from Officer Simpson’s holster. Officer Simpson ran and took cover.  At 1156 hours, Officer Simpson broadcasted that the suspect had his gun and was firing at him.

 

Rather than safely remaining behind cover, Officer Simpson tracked the suspect so he could direct incoming units. At some point, the suspect realized that Officer Simpson was there and started to chase him around cars while shooting at him. Officer Simpson went down. The suspect fired again while Officer Simpson was on the ground striking him in the head killing him instantly. 

 

Many officers responded to the scene. The suspect immediately confronted officers by firing at them. In the thirty-second gun battle that ensued, the suspect was struck numerous times. Three of the rounds pierced his heart.

 

As the gun battle ended, Officer Gordon Silva was discovered down on the sidewalk. Officer Silva was transported to the hospital and was bleeding badly.  In spite of the efforts to save his life, Officer Silva’s heart stopped for the final time at 1819 hours.

 

On January 26, 1989, the Department held the funeral for Officers Gene Simpson and Gordon Silva. Police Chaplain Dave Bridgen said the following at the service, “It’s okay to feel anger and to feel pain and frustration of grief. But, if Gene and Gordie were with us, they would be the first to say, ‘We chose our profession. We knew the danger. We were aware of the possibilities. We knew, and we wouldn’t trade it away. Stand up. Stand tall. Be proud of the uniform. We are family and even though we are gone, don’t let us down. Stand fast.”

 

Officer Gene Simpson was the fifth and Officer Gordon Silva was the sixth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer Gordon A. Silva

#1512

Officer Gordon A. Silva

Killed on January 20, 1989, by gunfire in the same firefight with the mentally ill pedestrian who had just mortally assaulted Officer Simpson.

On January 20, 1989, Officer Gene Simpson was assigned to work the downtown area on Day Shift. Officer Simpson was filling in as an overtime pay car. Shortly before noon, Officer Simpson received a call of a homeless male acting strangely and causing a disturbance at Fifth Street and Santa Clara. 

Upon his arrival, Officer Simpson made contact with the suspect. The suspect immediately attacked Officer Simpson. During the struggle, they both fell to the ground. The suspect was able to get the gun from Officer Simpson’s holster. Officer Simpson ran and took cover.  At 1156 hours, Officer Simpson broadcasted that the suspect had his gun and was firing at him.

 

Rather than safely remaining behind cover, Officer Simpson tracked the suspect so he could direct incoming units. At some point, the suspect realized that Officer Simpson was there and started to chase him around cars while shooting at him. Officer Simpson went down. The suspect fired again while Officer Simpson was on the ground striking him in the head killing him instantly. 

 

Many officers responded to the scene. The suspect immediately confronted officers by firing at them. In the thirty-second gun battle that ensued, the suspect was struck numerous times. Three of the rounds pierced his heart.

 

As the gun battle ended, Officer Gordon Silva was discovered down on the sidewalk. Officer Silva was transported to the hospital and was bleeding badly.  In spite of the efforts to save his life, Officer Silva’s heart stopped for the final time at 1819 hours.

 

On January 26, 1989, the Department held the funeral for Officers Gene Simpson and Gordon Silva. Police Chaplain Dave Bridgen said the following at the service, “It’s okay to feel anger and to feel pain and frustration of grief. But, if Gene and Gordie were with us, they would be the first to say, ‘We chose our profession. We knew the danger. We were aware of the possibilities. We knew, and we wouldn’t trade it away. Stand up. Stand tall. Be proud of the uniform. We are family and even though we are gone, don’t let us down. Stand fast.”

 

Officer Gene Simpson was the fifth and Officer Gordon Silva was the sixth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty. 

Officer Desmond J. Casey

#2705

Officer Desmond J. Casey

Killed on October 25, 1999, in an aircraft collision while piloting the Department's police helicopter.

On October 25, 1999, Desmond Casey was attempting to duplicate a mechanical problem he experienced with AIR1 two nights prior which caused him to perform an emergency landing at Reid Hillview Airport. The mechanical problem could not be duplicated and all systems were functioning properly. Officer Casey and a certified mechanic decided to fly the aircraft back to Mineta San Jose International Airport for further tests. While on final approach to the airport, AIR1 went unexpectedly out of control. Officer Casey struggled with the controls and guided the helicopter to a location north of Highway 880 and The Alameda where no one on the ground would be injured. Despite Officer Casey’s heroic maneuver, the helicopter crashed landed killing Officer Casey and the mechanic on impact. 

 

Officer Casey was the tenth San Jose Police Officer to die in the line of duty.

Officer Jeffrey Fontana.jpeg

#3702

Officer Jeffrey Fontana

Shot on October 28, 2001, while initiating a car stop during the early morning hours in the Almaden Valley area of San José.

On October 28, 2001, Officer Fontana was assigned to the midnight shift (71A4) in the Southern Division. At 0200 hours, Officer Fontana and other officers responded to a call of a disturbance involving a fight and weapons on Rotterdam Lane. Two of the subjects that fled the disturbance were identified as Deshawn Campbell and Rodney McNary. At 0415 hours, Officer Fontana and a teammate decided to report write and as they traveled eastbound on Blossom Hill Road, his teammate noticed that Officer Fontana was no longer behind him. Officer Fontana had followed a vehicle into a residential neighborhood which pulled into the driveway of a residence at a dead-end street. Officer Fontana pulled in behind the vehicle and approached on foot. The driver of the vehicle fired a single shot from a handgun fatally striking Officer Fontana. The suspect then fled the scene on foot.

 

A 9-1-1 call was then received reporting that an officer was down. Officer Fontana was the first unit assigned by communications to respond to the call. After he did not respond to the radio, responding units found him lying next to his patrol vehicle. Officer Fontana was pronounced at the scene.

 

Suspect Campbell was identified the night of the incident and was taken into custody days later. On May 20, 2009, Suspect Campbell was found guilty of second degree murder.

 

Officer Fontana was the eleventh San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

Officer Michael Johnson

#3718

Officer Michael Johnson

Shot on March 24, 2015 while responding to a call of a mentally disturbed man in possession of a firearm.

On March 24th, 2015, Officer Michael Johnson, a 14 year veteran, was assigned to work patrol District Lincoln. At approximately 1848 hours, Officer Johnson responded to the 2600 block of Senter Road on the report of an intoxicated, possibly suicidal subject at an apartment. While on scene, officers learned that the subject possibly had access to two handguns. Officer Johnson along with other officers set up a perimeter around the apartment and took cover behind vehicles. The subject exited the apartment onto a second floor balcony and fired multiple shots without warning. One shot struck Officer Johnson, killing him instantly. Another officer returned fire and killed the subject. His heroic efforts most likely saved other lives that day.

 

A memorial service was held for Officer Johnson on April 2nd, 2015 at the SAP Center. Over 8,000 people attended the services.

 

Officer Johnson was the twelfth San Jose Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

Officer Michael Katherman.jpg

#3900

Officer Michael Katherman

Killed on June 14, 2016, due to an on-duty traffic collision when an errant motorist struck his police motorcycle.

On June 14, 2016, Officer Michael Katherman was assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU). Officer Katherman and other TEU officers were working targeted enforcement in the area of North Tenth and Hedding Streets.  At approximately 1622 hours, Officer Katherman was traveling north on North Tenth Street on his police motorcycle.  As he approached Horning Street, a mini van attempted to turn left from southbound North Tenth Street onto eastbound Horning Street. The mini van drove into Officer Katherman's pathway and caused a collision causing Officer Katherman to strike the vehicle and roadway.

 

Several citizens observed the collision and stopped to assist. One of the citizen's used Officer Katherman's police radio to call for assistance. Other officers soon arrived and with the assistance of citizens, began rendering first aid.  Officer Katherman was transported to Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

 

Officer Katherman was the thirteenth San Jose Police Officer that died in the line of duty.  

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