Chief of Detectives Lenard Harris

Chief of Detectives Lenard Harris

Southern Pacific Railroad Police Department, Railroad Police

End of Watch Wednesday, May 16, 1894

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Lenard Harris

Chief of Detectives Lenard Harris was shot and killed while attempting to arrest three men who were robbing the Wells Fargo Express office at a railroad depot in Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County, California.

After learning of the planned robbery the previous day, Chief Harris went to the location with another railroad detective and a constable from Santa Cruz and placed the office under surveillance by hiding inside a boxcar. At approximately 8:00 pm, one suspect entered the office while two other suspects waited outside on the platform.

As Chief Harris entered the office, he was shot twice in the abdomen by that suspect who fled the scene, but was captured four days later. A gunbattle ensued outside, with the second suspect surrendering and the third escaping into the darkness.

Chief Harris was taken to a nearby motel to have his wounds treated. The following morning, he was taken by train to his home in Oakland where he lapsed into a coma and died shortly before midnight.

The suspect who shot Chief Harris was convicted of robbery and murder and sentenced to death. On June 7th, 1895, he was executed by hanging at San Quentin State Prison.

Chief of Detectives Harris had served with the Southern Pacific Railroad Police Department for 18 years and was a veteran of the Mexican-American War. He had previously served as a constable and deputy sheriff in Sacramento and as a detective for the Central Pacific Railroad. Chief Harris was survived by his wife and two sons. He was buried in Historic City Cemetery in Sacramento.

One of his sons was killed at age 25 in an accident while working as a brakeman for the Northern Pacific Railroad, while his other son later served with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad as a special police officer and was killed in the line of duty on July 15th, 1919.


  • Age 68
  • Tour 38 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location California
  • Incident Date Tuesday, May 15, 1894
  • Weapon Handgun; .44 caliber
  • Offender Executed in 1895

Most Recent Reflection

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Chief Harris,
On today, the 130th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just as a Law Enforcement Officer but for our Country as well when you served during the Mexican-American War.

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol(Retired)

May 16, 2024

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