Since 1850, nine Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office personnel have lost their lives while maintaining the public peace. There may have been others during the early history of our county, but the names and the circumstances have long ago been lost.
Deputy Sheriff David Campbell
January 16, 1862
On January 16, 1862, Deputy Sheriff David Campbell became the first Sonoma County deputy to be killed in the line of duty. Tragically, he would not be the last. On January 6, 1862, an unarmed Deputy Campbell went to the ranch of Isaac Baker located at Stony Point, Analy Township to serve an attachment on a horse. Newspaper reports of the day pinpoint the ranch’s location as approximately ten miles outside the town limits of Santa Rosa. Baker refused to allow Deputy Campbell possession of the horse and ran the deputy off his property at knifepoint. Ten days later, on January 16, 1862, Deputy Campbell returned to the Baker ranch with a warrant for Bakers arrest for felonious assault on a deputy, as well as the attachment for the horse. The deputies were armed this time. Baker refused to comply with the orders of the deputies to submit to arrest and began to walk away. Deputy Campbell drew his revolver and ordered him to halt. He refused and continued walking, challenging the deputy to shoot him. Deputy Campbell shot him. After being shot, Baker said “he has shot me… he has killed me.” He then called to his son William who was standing about 30 paces away, armed with a rifle and told him to shoot the deputy. Deputy Campbell saw that William was preparing to shoot at him and fired at William first. He missed his mark and William returned fire, shooting the deputy in the chest. Deputy Campbell died approximately four minutes later. Isaac Baker died the next day. William Baker turned himself in to Squire Lee of Analy Township the same day. After being examined by Squire Lee, William Baker was released from custody without charges. Deputy Campbell’s last meal was with Deputy Hood and August Kohle at the Washoe House, which is located at the intersection of Stony Point Road and Roblar Road and is still in business and still serving meals. Deputy Campbell’s funeral was held in Santa Rosa but records do not indicate where he was buried.
Constable / Deputy Sheriff Albert P. Crigler (Age 33)
April 28, 1888
Constable Albert “Ab” P. Crigler, of the Cloverdale Township, and also a deputy sheriff, was shot and killed by a stagecoach robber on April 28, 1888. He had been a constable for just over three years. Constables were elected officials who served the criminal justice needs of the township that elected them. They were also concurrently sworn in as deputy sheriffs so that they would have jurisdiction outside the township area. At approximately 1:30 p.m., on April 28, 1888, the stagecoach from Cloverdale to Lakeport was held up by two masked men on Geysers Spring Road approximately 4 miles east of Cloverdale. The robbers were brothers-in-law named Eugene Preus and Jon Frey. The robbers took the Wells, Fargo & Co. strongbox and ordered the driver to continue on his way. When word of the robbery reached Cloverdale, Constable Crigler deputized Samuel Allen and the two of them started out after the highwaymen. They caught up to them in a rocky area near Sulpher Creek at about 5:30 that afternoon. Constable Crigler ordered the men to put down their weapons and surrender. Frey put down his revolver but Preus didn’t comply. He shot Constable Crigler in the right side of his body with a .44 caliber Colt’s navy revolver killing him almost immediately. Samuel Allen quickly returned fire with his .44 caliber Winchester rifle, shooting Preus through his left eye, killing him instantly. Frey exchanged gunfire with Samuel Allen and was seriously wounded in his right arm. He escaped but was caught two days later while walking down the railroad tracks about 1 ½ miles south of Santa Rosa. He was still in possession of the money taken from the strongbox. Frey was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Wells, Fargo & Co. gave $300 to Constable Crigler’s widow and another $300 to Samuel Allen for the efforts of the lawmen. Constable Crigler is buried in the Cloverdale Cemetary.
Sheriff James Petray (Age 55)
December 5, 1920
Sheriff James Albert Petray, known as “Sunny Jim”, was shot and killed on December 5, 1920. Killed with him were San Francisco Police Sergeant Miles Jackson and SFPD Detective Lester Dohrman. The three lawmen were attempting to arrest three men suspected of kidnapping and gang raping two young women in San Francisco. The suspects, George Boyd, Terry Fitts, and “Spanish Charley” Valento had recently arrived in Santa Rosa from San Francisco by train. As Sheriff Petray, Sergeant Jackson, and Detective Dohrman entered the front door of the Seventh Street house, Boyd opened fire with his revolver shooting all three men. Sheriff Petray died instantly. Sergeant Jackson, mortally wounded, died within minutes. Detective Dohrman died a couple of hours later. Before he died, Sergeant Jackson managed to shoot and wound George Boyd. Deputies surrounded the house and eventually took all three suspects into custody. They took them to the County jail in downtown Santa Rosa where they were charged with the three murders. Five days after the killings, on December 10, 1920, a group of about 30 masked vigilantes took the suspects from the jail and hanged them from a locust tree in the old Rural Cemetery on Franklin Avenue in Santa Rosa. This was the last lynching to take place in Sonoma County. Sheriff Petray is buried at Oak Mound Cemetary in Healdsburg.
Constable/Deputy Sheriff Rasmus L. Rasmussen (Age 64)
April 20, 1927
Petaluma Township Constable Rasmus L. Rasmussen was shot and killed on April 20, 1927. Constable Rasmussen, like Constable Crigler mentioned earlier, was also a deputy sheriff. He was killed by a rifle shot to the head, inflicted by 70-year-old, John Failla. Early that morning, Failla had taken his small dog for a customary morning walk. During the walk, his dog jumped up on Joe Mancebo, the owner of the Redwood Highway service station on Main Street in Petaluma. Failla and Mancebo argued about the dog and then went their separate ways. Failla was so upset that he went downtown and bought a rifle and two boxes of cartridges. He then went back to the service station and began shooting at Mr. Mancebo. His shots missed. Mike Theos, a cook at a nearby diner, attempted to take the rifle away from Failla, but was shot and killed by Failla. Failla then retreated to his house on Cherry Street and barricaded himself inside. Constable Rasmussen, Sheriff Douglas Bills and several deputies, as well as Petaluma Police Chief Mike Flohr and his men surrounded the house. The local National Guard Machine Gun Detail even got involved, firing bursts of machine gun rounds at the house. At one point, an airplane was sent to San Francisco to pick up a hand grenade and four tear gas bombs from the San Francisco Police Department. During the standoff, Constable Rasmussen was shot in the head by John Failla. Percy Fuller, a member of the posse who had been standing next to Constable Rasmussen when he was killed, returned fire with his rifle and shot Failla in the stomach. Failla died where he fell. Constable Rasmussen is buried in the Berkeley Cemetery.
Deputy Sheriff Merrit Deeds (Age 32)
August 23, 1975
On August 23, 1975 at approximately 11:45 p.m., Deputy Merrit Deeds stopped to assist what he believed was a stranded motorist parked at the edge of Highway 116 approximately ¼ mile east of Highway 1 near Jenner. Actually, John Robert Shirey a wanted parolee, who had served time in state prison for child molestation had pulled to the side of the road to molest two 15-year-old hitchhikers that he and two male companions had picked up earlier. After making contact with Shirey and obtaining his drivers license, Deputy Deeds started to walk back to his patrol car to check him for warrants, still unaware of what had been transpiring. Shirey had vowed never to return to prison. Knowing he was a wanted felon and fearing that he would be returned to prison, Shirey told one of his companions to hand him the Walther PPK semi-automatic pistol that was in the glove compartment. He announced that he was going to “off this pig.” At that time, the two 15-year old boys escaped from Shirey’s car and ran into a field yelling to Deputy Deeds that the suspects had a gun. Shirey got the drop on Deputy Deeds and forced him to the back of the suspect vehicle. At that time, Rex Nance, an off-duty reserve deputy sheriff, drove by and saw what was happening. He stopped to aid Deputy Deeds. As he approached Deputy Deeds’ location, Shirey shot Deputy Deeds in the face. Shirey then turned the weapon on Reserve Deputy Nance and shot him numerous times. Shirey then delivered a final shot to Deputy Deeds’ neck. Shirey took Deputy Deeds’ revolver and the suspects fled the area in their vehicle. Even though grievously wounded from several gunshot wounds from which he would later recover, Reserve Deputy Nance made his way to the patrol car and radioed what had happened and the last known direction of travel for the suspect vehicle. The three suspects were taken into custody without incident later that same night on Barnett Valley Road just south of Bodega Highway between Freestone and Sebastopol. Shirey was convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer and his accomplices were convicted of being accessories to murder. Shirey was sentenced to life in prison. His accomplices received lesser sentences. Deputy Deeds had been hired just three months before he was killed. Prior to that, he had served as a State Trooper for the State of Alaska for three years. While a student at SRJC, Deputy Deeds served as Captain of the campus police. To honor Deputy Deeds, a scholarship was started in his name at Santa Rosa Junior College for deserving criminal justice students. Deputy Deeds is buried at Shiloh Cemetery in Windsor.
Detective Sergeant Ed Wilkinson (Age 41)
April 17, 1977
Detective Sergeant Edward Francis Wilkinson was killed on April 17, 1977 while piloting the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter “Angel 1.” Sergeant Wilkinson was returning to the helicopter hangar at the Sonoma County Airport after searching for a missing nine-year old girl when the helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed into a field on Barnes Road, approximately one-half mile south of River Road. Also injured in the 4:30 p.m. crash was helicopter observer Reserve Deputy Gloria Baxter. Sergeant Wilkinson was severely injured and succumbed to his injuries later that night. Reserve Deputy Baxter suffered major injuries but ultimately recovered. Sergeant Wilkinson started the Department’s helicopter program and was its first pilot. The helicopter program is still in existence and has been credited with saving many lives through its search and rescue, law enforcement, and medical air ambulance services. The Wilkinson Valor Award was created in Sergeant Wilkinson’s memory to honor fellow officers for acts of heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant Wilkinson was a 17-year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Sergeant Wilkinson’s ashes were scattered at sea.
Deputy Sheriff Brent Jameson (Age 30)
Deputy Sheriff Bliss Magly (Age 27)
October 23, 1980
Deputies Brent Charles Jameson and Bliss Steven Magly were killed on October 23, 1980 at approximately 8:50 p.m. when their Sheriff’s Department helicopter, “Angel 2,” crashed and burned in heavy fog. The location was approximately one-half mile south of the Sonoma County Airport between River Road and Laughlin Road. Deputy Jameson was the pilot and Deputy Magly was the helicopter observer. They were returning from a mission to assist law enforcement officers on the ground in the area of Ludwig Avenue east of Llano Road between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. Earlier that evening, a California Highway Patrol officer had stopped a vehicle for a minor vehicle code violation, when the driver stepped out of his car and fired a shotgun at the CHP officer. Fortunately, the officer was not injured. The suspect, Alfredo Gonzalez Fernandez, escaped through a nearby field. He was captured at 1:30 a.m. the following morning. Fernandez was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer (the CHP officer) and sentenced to five years in prison. No charges could be brought against him regarding the deaths of Deputies Jameson and Magly since their deaths were ruled accidental. To honor the deputies, scholarships in their names were opened at Santa Rosa Junior College to assist deserving criminal justice students. The annual Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Awards Banquet was started as a result of this tragedy as a way to properly recognize outstanding work of Sheriff’s Office members. The first banquet was dedicated to Deputies Jameson and Magly and they were posthumously awarded Gold Medals of Valor. Deputy Jameson was a six-year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and had served as a police officer with the Novato Police Department for three years prior to that. Deputy Jameson is buried at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Petaluma. Deputy Magly was a 3 ½ year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Magly is buried at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.
The inscription reads simply:
Deputy Sheriff Frank Trejo (Age 58)
March 29, 1995
On March 29, 1995, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Deputy Frank Vasquez Trejo saw an occupied pickup in the parking lot of the Santa Rosa Saddlery at 5338 Highway 12, west of Santa Rosa. The business was closed so Deputy Trejo stopped to investigate. In the vehicle were Robert Walter Scully, a recently paroled inmate from Pelican Bay State Prison with an extensive criminal history and also a member of the infamous prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood. A female companion, Brenda Kay Moore, was also in the vehicle. Scully and Moore were casing a tavern next to the closed business, intending on committing an armed robbery. As Deputy Trejo was walking toward the suspect vehicle, Scully pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and confronted him at the rear of the pickup. Scully shot Deputy Trejo in the face with the shotgun, killing him instantly. Scully then took Deputy Trejo’s gun and fled the area. Scully and Moore forced their way into a house a short distance away and took a family hostage. The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the hostage situation and quickly set up a perimeter around the house with patrol deputies and the S.W.A.T. Team. After several hours, Scully and Moore surrendered to deputies. Scully was convicted of first degree murder and sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison to await execution. Moore was convicted of numerous felony offenses associated with this incident and sentenced to 14 years in State prison. Deputy Trejo was awarded a posthumous Gold Medal of Valor for his sacrifice. Deputy Trejo was a 35-year law enforcement veteran, serving as a Police Officer in the cities of Lompoc and Tiburon before being hired by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office 15 years before his death.
There weren't enough seats for the 1,400 police officers attending the memorial April 3, 1995, for "the old man" of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
Hundreds of officers stood in formation in the foyer as speakers remembered and thanked Deputy Frank V. Trejo. The grandfather and career lawman was 58 when he was shot to death March 29.
Trejo was well-known to graveyard shift workers in the huge area he policed from west of Santa Rosa and Cotati to near Forestville. He had spotted a pickup in the lot of a closed store near Sebastopol and pulled into investigate. Minutes later, Sonoma County's oldest patrol deputy lay dead from a shotgun blast. Two suspects were later arrested.
"My dad loved his job," said 24-year-old Nikki Trejo, surveying the auditorium filled with uniformed officers from across the state. "This was where he belonged, among the rest of you."
Although 2,200 people attended Trejo's memorial, the farewell had the feeling of a family affair. Ordinary citizens walked to the microphone to say something about the down-to-earth, reliable deputy.
Clerks who worked the graveyard shift in west county stores said they liked the stout and muscular Trejo and felt safer knowing he wasn't far away.
West county resident Ann Davis thanked Trejo's family for the deputy's sacrifice. "To all of you in uniforms, it could have been any of you," Davis added. "Thank you for protecting us.
A close friend of Trejo, former Deputy Carlos Basurto, was a detective when Trejo, formerly a policeman in Lompoc and Tiburon, became a Sonoma County deputy in 1980. Basurto said he took one look at Trejo and knew he was looking at the department's new narcotics detective.
At Basurto's suggestion, Trejo began deep-cover work, buying heroin from dealers and then sending in deputies to bust them.
"Frank was good at buying heroin," said Basurto. The somber crowd laughed when Basurto added, "He was so good, the dealers gave him a discount." Basurto ended by beseeching the officers present, "Please be careful."
Earlier, a motorcade of 240 patrol cars and 60 police motorcycles, led by limousines bearing Trejo's family, moved slowly from the fairgrounds in central Santa Rosa to the memorial at the Burbank Center. Along the route, some spectators bowed their heads in honor of Frank Trejo. Others saluted.
Trejo was remembered as a fine father and loving grandfather and as the kind of cop who used brains rather than brawn, although he had both.
Former Tiburon policeman Bill Langston, now a sergeant with the Placer County Sheriff's Department, recalled that in 1978 he was a young cop eager "to go out and kick some butt," Langston credited Trejo's patient mentoring with helping him mature into a good cop.
Ron Hutchins, an officer from Trejo's home town of Lompoc, said Trejo was a master at resolving fights and other problems without getting physical. Hutchins said when he heard Trejo had been killed, "I thought, damn, I lost my role model."
He was a role model also for son Michael, 22. The younger Trejo struggled to contain his grief as he said his family deeply appreciated the community's love and support and all the expressions of fondness for his father. "He was a great man," Michael Trejo said.
Trejo is survived by his wife Barbara; son Michael, Jr.; daughters Debra Radovich, Dominique Trejo and Deanna Trejo; three grandchildren; and mother Carmen Trejo of Lompoc.
Frank V. Trejo
Date of Birth: February 10, 1937
Date Appointed: April 20, 1980
End of Watch: March 29, 1995
This memorial hangs in the Lompoc, California, Police Department where Frank had served as a Police Officer during the '70's. The inscription reads:
In lasting memory of Frank Trejo. Frank was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving as a Deputy Sheriff for the County of Sonoma on March 29th., 1995.
Frank served as a Police Officer with the City of Lompoc from June 1969 to October 1977.
Special thanks to Officer Harry Heidt, Lompoc Police Department, for helping us to remember Frank.
Sergeant Dave Nagle, Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, writes:
"Last May (2000) I briefly met an officer from Lompoc PD. He'd seen the Sonoma Sheriff marked car I was in and asked if I knew Frank Trejo. This officer, Harry Heidt, had worked with Frank at Lompoc during the 70's. Heidt sent me a digital photo of a memorial he's put together for their station. I thought many of you might be interested in seeing it."
As tragic as the loss of these public servants may have been, they also left a legacy for the future. Each untimely death focuses public attention on aspects of law enforcement that are often overlooked in everyday life, and the sacrifices made to ensure public safety.