Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 2 years
Badge # 6885
Incident Date: 4/6/1970
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: One committed suicide
California Highway Patrol Officers James Pence, Jr., Walter Frago, Roger Gore, and George Alleyn were shot and killed by two heavily armed assailants.
Earlier in the day, the suspects were in the northern Los Angeles County foothills target practicing with an assortment of weapons, which included handguns, rifles, and shotguns. They were also testing the range of their walkie-talkie. Their plan was to use this equipment to commit armed robberies in order to finance a scheme to purchase nursing homes.
After dropping the passenger suspect off in the hills, the driver suspect drove a distance to test the walkie-talkie. During this time, the driver made an unsafe U-turn on the freeway, cutting off another motorist. A verbal exchange occurred between the two men, and the driver threatened the motorist with a handgun.
The motorist was allowed to leave after he convinced the gunman the California Highway Patrol was in the area. The motorist continued south on the freeway, then made a call to the California Highway Patrol, Newhall Station, and reported the incident.
The CHP officers in the Newhall area were notified by radio that a brandishing with a handgun incident had occurred on US 99 in the Gorman area, which was north of their positions. Officers Roger Gore and Walter Frago told dispatch they were staked out in the area of Castaic Junction and US 99. A short time later, they spotted the vehicle, a red color Pontiac, traveling south on the freeway. The officers notified dispatch that they were following the vehicle as it continued south. The officers were in communication with the CHP backup vehicle containing, Officers James Pence and George Alleyn. The officers intended to make a vehicle stop when the gunman reached the area of Valencia Boulevard, where Officers Pence and Alleyn were positioned.
The vehicle instead exited the off ramp at Henry Mayo Drive, just north of Valencia. The Pontiac pulled into the parking lot of a Standard Station and J's Coffee Shop, just off of the exit, and stopped in the driveway of the service station.
After activating their red light, and drawing their weapons, Officer Gore ordered the suspects to exit the car with their hands up. They failed to comply and the order was given again. Finally, the driver suspect got out of the Pontiac and was told to lean on the Pontiac's left fender in order to submit to a search. The passenger suspect still did not comply with the exit order and Officer Frago proceeded to walk up to the right side of the Pontiac in order to remove him. The passenger suddenly opened his door and shot Officer Frago twice with a handgun. Officer Frago collapsed and died immediately. The passenger then fired at Officer Gore, who returned fire. The driver, who had a handgun concealed in his waistband, then shot Officer Gore; he was hit twice in the chest and died.
In the next instant, Officers Pence and Alleyn arrived on the scene and were immediately fired upon. Officer Pence put out a shots fired, officer needs assistance call. In the ensuing gun battle, both officers were shot and killed.
The gunmen were able to make their escape after firing at the arrival of a third and fourth CHP unit. They drove into a dead end road shortly thereafter, abandoned their vehicle, and made their escape on foot.
Los Angeles County deputies later captured the driver after he stole a camper by shooting and beating the owner.
The passenger suspect entered a home in the city of Newhall and took the residents hostage. He later committed suicide when the home was tear gassed and stormed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The driver received the death penalty upon conviction of four counts of murder. The death sentences were modified to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional.
On Sunday, August 16, 2009, the killer was found dead in his cell at the Kern Valley State Prison, of an apparent suicide.
Officer Pence is buried in Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery, Fairfield, Solano County, California.
Related Line of Duty Deaths
Officer Roger D. Gore
Officer Walter C. Frago
Officer George M. Alleyn