There were no proclamations made by city or county officials last week honoring the local law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, but their sacrifice was remembered by a grateful nation on Peace Officer Memorial Day, May 15, at the national memorial, in Maryland, and the California Peace Officer Memorial, in Sacramento.
There have been 21, 910 peace officers killed in the U.S. since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791.
“Our Nation’s law enforcement officers serve with courage, dedication, and strength,” said President Donald J. Trump, in a resolution honoring the fallen. “They fearlessly enforce our laws, even at the risk of personal peril, safeguarding our property, our liberty, and our lives. We owe them, and their families, our full and enduring support.”
Two peace officers from the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office and two from the Colusa Police Department have been killed while serving the local community. A California Fish and Game warden and a Davis Police Officer, both Colusa County residents, were killed in the line of duty in neighboring jurisdictions.
Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy John A. McClain was killed on Sept. 27, 1870 while serving an eviction order on Roy Hamilton and other squatters in the Antelope Valley, west of Maxwell, according to the local newspaper.
Hamilton shot McClain, 38, in the head, killing him instantly, then wheeled and shot E.P. Wells, who had accompanied McClain, in the heart, killing him instantly. He then ran down James Gongwer and Alonzo Stewart, who had also accompanied Deputy McClain to the property, on horseback as they tried to retreat.
Gongwer was shot at and survived to tell the story. Stewart, who owned the land, pleaded with his life to no avail. Hamilton shot Stewart six times with a pistol and twice with a shotgun, and Stewart died soon after at the nearby Brown ranch. The Hamilton brothers fled the area and were never brought to justice.
McClain left a wife and four children.
Colusa Town Marshall John T. Arnold, 30, was killed in the line of duty on March 2, 1878 at the store on Market and Fifth streets (Odd Fellows Building) when former Colusa County District Attorney Dudley Shepardson shot him four times as Arnold approached him to serve a misdemeanor arrest warrant.
Shepardson was later acquitted.
Arnold, who had served as a local peace officer for 10 years, left a wife and two children.
Colusa Town Marshall Jasper Newton Scoggins, 60, was shot and killed by ex-con Thomas Woods on April 18, 1919 in a barn located on the corner of Bridge and Webster Streets. Woods, who was injured in the shoot-out by a deputy, was sentenced to life in prison at San Quentin.
According to the Colusa Sun, “the death of J.N. Scoggins came as a staggering blow to this community. For 23 years he had served the people of Colusa as a peace officer. He was considered an ideal citizen; a fearless officer, and a man who had a sense of justice that made him liked and admired even by those whom he had to punish.”
Scoggins left behind a wife and two adult children.
Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael W. McClung, 23, of Williams, was killed July 2, 1984, after being hit by a train near Myers Road while he was on patrol. McClung was killed instantly. He left a wife and 8-month-old son.
Game Warden Leon H. Nelson, 36, of Colusa, was killed in a vehicle accident in the Mendocino National Forest on Forest Highway 7 in Glenn County on Oct. 27, 1979 while on patrol. He left a wife and four children.
All five men are on the California Peace Officer’s Memorial, Capital Park, Sacramento, and the National Memorial in Baltimore, Maryland.
The most recent death was that of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona, 22, of Arbuckle, who was shot and killed while assisting at a traffic accident on Jan. 10, 2019. She was honored at a memorial Thursday in Yolo County. Her name will be added to the State Capitol memorial in 2020. The gunman was found dead the following day from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Between May 15, 2018 and May 15, 2019, the names of 371 peace officers have been added to the national memorial. ■