Officer Edward A. Bertino
Tour of Duty: 20 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: February 3, 1940
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Prosecution outcome not known.
During the early morning hours of February 4, 1940, gunfire from an ambush brought about the death of Riverside Police Department Officer (Traffic Officer) Edward A. Bertino, and critically wounded his partner, Officer Homer Stricklin. The suspect, Alfred Guerrero, had an extensive record with the police. During an argument with his mother on the evening of February 3rd, Guerrero told his mother he would shoot the police if she were to call them. It was later reported he had been drinking alcohol during much of the day. Guerrero’s mother called the Riverside Police Department from a neighbor’s home, warning them that her son had a gun. Officers Stricklin and Bertino drove to the residence in response to the mother’s call. Arriving at the house, both officers exited their patrol car and approached the front of the house. Seeing a shadow in the bushes near the front of the house, Officer Bertino called on Guerrero to throw down his gun and step out of the bushes. Instead, Guerrero opened fire, his first bullet fatally wounding Bertino in the stomach. The wounded officer attempted to return fire, but was unable to obtain a clear view of his assailant. Since the officers were plainly outlined by the light from a nearby kitchen window, Guerrero siezed the opportunity to shoot again, and the next bullet struck Officer Stricklin in the right hand, knocking his pistol from his grip and paralyzing his right arm. Officer Bertino attempted to take cover behind the patrol car, however, the next shot fatally wounded him in the head. Officer Stricklin managed to get back to their patrol car where he radioed for help. When additional officers arrived at the scene, Deputy Chief Roy Thomas kicked in a window and made entry into the house. However, Guerrero had already fled. Later in the morning, officers located Guerrero at the home of Felix Breceda, where he again fled away on foot. Guerrero was later taken into custody by Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies Perez M. Hayden and Archie Veldenas as he fled the city over the old Mission Boulevard bridge, the murder weapon still in his possession. Traffic Officer Bertino had been a member of the Riverside Police Department since 1920. He was appointed in May of that year and assigned as a traffic officer in October. He lived at 3463 Walnut Street, Riverside, with his wife, Willma Bertino, and their three children, Kenneth, Marylin, and Billy. He was the son of Mary and William Bertino, of Santa Monica.