1969 – Ambers O. “Sunny” Shewmaker – Officer – California Highway Patrol

Officer Ambers O. “Sunny” Shewmaker

Biographical Info:

Born:  Unknown
Age: 28
Tour of Duty: 9 months
Badge Number: 7059

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: November 24, 1969
Weapon Used: Handgun; 9 mm
Suspect Info: Apprehended

State Traffic Officer “Sonny” Shewmaker was shot and killed when he stopped a vehicle for speeding on Interstate 10 in the unincorporated portion of Riverside County known as Cabazon (east of the city of Banning). Unbeknownst to him the car he stopped had been stolen. As he was using his radio to “run” the vehicle’s license plate, the suspect opened fire, killing him. The suspect was later apprehended. The suspect was tried, found guilty and was sentanced to serve a life term (no death penalty in California at the time).  Officer Shewmaker had served the Riverside Area prior to his transfer to the Banning CHP Area. Officer Shewmaker had served with the California Highway Patrol for nine months.  He is survived by his wife Candice.

Officer Shewmaker’s burial site is unknown.

1969 – William F. Carter – Investigator – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Investigator William F. Carter, Jr.

Biographical Info:

Born:  Unknown
Age: 33
Tour of Duty: 7 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Traffic Collision
Date of Incident: May 14, 1969
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: N/A

Investigator William Carter was employed with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for seven years. He was hired on January 4, 1962.

Investigator Carter was assigned to the Indio Station. His law enforcement career began with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and he did not work with any other law enforcement agency prior to his hiring. On May 14, 1969, Investigator Carter and Sergeant William Rutledge were traveling from Blythe to Indio after working during the morning hours in Blythe. Both men apparently fell asleep. The patrol unit they were traveling in smashed into the rear end of a truck and killed Sergeant Rutledge instantly. Investigator Carter died six days later on May 20, 1969. Investigator Carter was survived by his wife and three children.

Investigator Carter’s burial site is not known.

1969 – William J. Rutledge – Sergeant – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Sergent William J. Rutledge

Biographical Info:

Born: Unknown date
Age: 32
Tour of Duty: 7 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Traffic Collision
Date of Incident: May 14, 1969
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: Not available

Sergeant William Rutledge was employed with Riverside Sheriff’s Department for seven and a half years. He was hired on October 18, 1961, and assigned to the Indio Station. In November 1965, he was reclassified to Investigator and in June 1967, was promoted to Sergeant and transferred to the Indio Jail. Sergeant Rutledge began his career in law enforcement by attending the Riverside Sheriff’s 19th Basic Academy. He was hired by Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and did not work for any other law enforcement agency prior to this hiring. On May 14, 1969, Investigator William Carter and Sergeant Rutledge were traveling from Blythe to Indio after working during the morning hours in Blythe. Both men apparently fell asleep. The patrol unit they were traveling in smashed into the rear end of a truck and killed Sergeant Rutledge instantly. Investigator Carter died six days later. Sergeant Rutledge was survived by his wife and three children. He was also survived by his parents and one brother. Sergeant Rutledge was born in Enid, Oklahoma.

Sergeant Rutledge’s burial site is not known.

1967 – George F. Azrak – Inspector – United States Border Patrol

Inspector George F. Azrak

Biographical Info:

Born:  Unknown
Age: 22
Tour of Duty: 1 month
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Location: California
Date of Incident: June 17, 1967
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Parole hearing in 2003

Inspector George Azrak and Inspector Theodore Newton were shot and killed after being abducted by four persons from a traffic checkpoint on Highway 79 near Oak Grove, California (now in the city of Murietta). The ensuing investigation determined that the two inspectors had stopped a vehicle with over 800 pounds of marijuana. While searching the vehicle, they were overpowered and taken to a remote cabin in a deserted mountainous area. The two had been handcuffed together and were shot and killed as they lay on the ground. Their bodies were found two days later. Four subjects were arrested in connection with the murders one month later. Two of the men were sentenced to 30 years in prison and were released in 1980. The other two were sentenced to life in prison. One of those two was paroled in 1998.  The last paroled in 2003. Inspector Azrak had served with the Border Patrol for one month.

Inspector Azrak’s burial location is not known.

1967 – Theodore L. Newton, Jr. – Inspector – United States Border Patrol

Biographical Info:

Born: Unknown
Age: 25
Tour of Duty: 1 year
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Location: California
Date of Incident: June 17, 1967
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Parole request 2003, Denied parole 2006 (last of the four suspects)

Inspector Theodore Newton and Inspector George F. Azrak were shot and killed after being abducted from a traffic checkpoint on Highway 79 near Oak Grove, California (now in the city of Murietta). The ensuing investigation determined that the two inspectors had stopped a vehicle with over 800 pounds of marijuana. While searching the vehicle, they were overpowered by four subjects and taken to a remote cabin in a deserted mountainous area. The two had been handcuffed together and were shot and killed as they lay on the ground. Their bodies were found two days later. Four subjects were arrested in connection with the murders one month later. Two of the men were sentenced to 30 years in prison and were released in 1980. The other two were sentenced to life in prison. One of those two was paroled in 1998 and the remaining suspect was denied parole in 2006. Inspector Newton had been with the agency for one year. He was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

Inspector Newton’s burial site is not known.

1962 – Lyle Wayne Larrabee – Officer – Palm Springs Police Department

Officer Lyle Wayne Larrabee

Biographical Info

Born:  Unknown
Age: 26
Tour of Duty: 1 year
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Traffic Collision (Vehicle Pursuit)
Date of Incident: January 1, 1962
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: N/A

Officer Larrabee was killed in a traffic collision which occurred during a pursuit of a vehicle. A third vehicle pulled out in front of him during the pursuit. He swerved to avoid a collision and struck a utility pole. He was ejected from the police cruiser which then landed on top of him. Officer Larrabee was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and had been with the Palm Springs Police Department for exactly one year. He is survived by his wife and mother.

Officer Larrabee’s burial location is not known.

1961 – Roger A. Strong – Deputy – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy Roger A. Strong

Biographical Info:

Born:  Unknown
Age: 26
Tour of Duty: 5 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Heat exhaustion
Date of Incident: August 7, 1961
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: N/A

Deputy Roger Strong was employed by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for seven months. He was hired on January 1, 1961, and was assigned to the Blythe Station. Deputy Strong began his career in law enforcement with the East St. Louis, Illinois, Police Department in 1956. He moved to Riverside County and began working for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1961. On August 7, 1961, Deputy Strong and RSO Sergeant Ralph Gallagher were on a rescue mission in the desert. They were looking for persons who had reportedly become lost. The rescue jeep that Deputy Strong and Sergeant Gallagher were driving broke down and the two officers began walking back to the highway. Deputy Strong was overcome by the heat and never regained consciousness. Deputy Strong was survived by his wife of five years and their two children.

Deputy Strong’s burial site is not known.

1961 – Gale Gene Eldridge – Officer – Palm Springs Police Department

Officer Gale Gene Eldridge

Biographical Info:

Born: Unknown
Age:  32
Tour of Duty: Not available
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: January 18, 1961
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: Shot and killed

Officer Gale Eldridge was on duty when he stopped a car for a traffic violation at approximately 7:45 in the evening. The driver told Officer Eldridge that he was on his way to a party on the “Reservation.” The “Reservation” was a residential area located in the 200 block of South Indian. Officer Eldridge allowed the driver to leave the traffic stop scene.  Officer Eldridge was alerted a short time later that this same person was involved in a robbery in Banning. Eldridge called for a backup to meet with him in the “Reservation.” Palm Springs Police Department Officer Quincy Welch responded to the request. Officer Eldridge drove down one street while Officer Welch approached from a separate direction. Officer Welch overheard on the radio that Eldridge had stopped the suspect and was out of his patrol car investigating. A short time later Officer Welch heard two gunshots. When Officer Welch arrived on the scene, he found Officer Eldridge face down in his police car. Officer Eldridge had been shot in the stomach. His gun was at his feet and had not been fired. Upon further investigation, the suspect was found in his own car and he had been shot in the head. Two shots had been fired from the driver’s gun. It is speculation that Officer Eldridge had a brief struggle with this suspect. The driver apparently shot Eldridge in the stomach. Eldridge was able to use the suspect’s own gun to shoot him in the head. Both Eldridge and the suspect died at the scene. Officer Gale Eldridge was 32-years-old when he died. He was a father of three children, Gale, 13; Donna, 11; and Bobby, 5.

Officer Edridge’s burial site is not known.

1956 – Howard R. Sheffler – Deputy – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Biographical Info:

Born:  Unknown.
Age: 28
Tour of Duty: 1 year
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:

Cause of Death: Traffic Collision
Date of Incident: February 29, 1956
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: N/A

Deputy Howard Scheffler was employed with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for one year. He was hired on February 1, 1955, and assigned to the Indio Station. Before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Scheffler worked for the Coronado Police Department. Deputy Scheffler was driving back to the Indio Station after performing his duties in Riverside. He had worked patrol the night before. His vehicle veered off the roadway’s dividing strip and rolled several times, killing Deputy Scheffler instantly. Deputy Scheffler was survived by his wife and twin daughters.

Deputy Scheffler’s burial site is not known.

1956 – Raymond A. Geiger – Officer – California Highway Patrol

Biographical Info:

Born:  March 16, 1928
Age: 28
Tour of Duty: Not available
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details:
Cause of Death: Traffic Collision (Motorcycle)
Date of Incident: August 10, 1956
Weapon Used: N/A
Suspect Info: Not available

State Traffic Officer Raymond A. Geiger had just left his home to report for the graveyard shift when his departmental motorcycle collided head-on with an automobile that was passing on a hill. Officer Geiger, 28, died instantly from the impact. The traffic collision happened so close to Geiger’s home that his wife, who heard the commotion, walked to the scene thinking her husband was handling the investigation. She was intercepted by another officer who was attempting to spare her the sight of the smashed motorcycle that belonged to her husband.

Officer Geiger was assigned to the CHP’s Riverside Area office.

Officer Geiger’s burial site is not known.