In anticipation of his 2016 enrollment in the Long Beach Police & Fire Memorial, the California Peace Officer’s Memorial and National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, Long Beach Police are asking for the public’s help in locating the relatives of the late Long Beach Patrolman William Homer Waggoner, the LBPD announced Monday.
A Missouri native born in 1894, Waggoner became a Patrolman with the LBPD in 1929 at age 34. He passed away in 1954 from injuries sustained in a gun battle nearly 24 years ago, according the LBPD.
Earlier this year, Waggoner was enrolled in the Los Angeles County Peace Officers’ Memorial.
On December 21, 1930, at about 9:00PM Waggoner and his partner, Officer C. A. Jenks, came upon a suspicious vehicle parked along the side of Pico Street near the docks. The officers noticed four men inside the vehicle and stopped to investigate what they considered to be suspicious activity.
The officers had unknowingly interrupted associates of a well-known Chicago mobster, who were headed to a gambling ship to transfer ransom money as part of a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme, according to the LBPD.
Waggoner attempted to question one of the men who had exited the vehicle while Jenks ordered the men still seated in the back out of the vehicle. As they began to exit, one of the men reached back into the car, turned, and began firing at the officers without warning. As gunfire was exchanged between the two officers and three of the four men, Waggoner ran toward the front of his patrol vehicle and stooped to the ground.
Jenks, believing his partner had ducked to reload his revolver, proceeded to reload and re-engage the suspects who fled on foot in different directions. When Jenks re-joined his partner in front of their patrol car he realized Waggoner had been shot. About the same time, Officer W. E. Slaughter arrived, after apprehending one of the fleeing suspects. The other three were subsequently arrested.
The bullet that struck Waggoner during the gunfight had lodged near his spine, causing permanent partial paralysis. He passed away in Seaside Hospital in Long Beach on December 18, 1954. The Coroner’s register listed a “gunshot wound of the spine” as a factor in his death, which was officially ruled a homicide, according to the LBPD.
At the time of Waggoner’s death, he and his wife Mary were residing in the 2400 block of Golden Avenue. He was survived by a son, a daughter, grandchildren, two sisters and three brothers, and had relative in Long Beach, Fresno, Phoenix and Oklahoma City.