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Deputy Sheriff Denny Van Lawrence | Elko County Sheriff's Office, Nevada Elko County Sheriff's Office, Nevada

Deputy Sheriff

Denny Van Lawrence

Elko County Sheriff's Office, Nevada

End of Watch: Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 77

Tour: 26 years

Badge # 228

Military veteran

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 6/26/1982

Weapon: Handgun; .22 caliber

Offender: Shot and killed

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Deputy Sheriff Denny Lawrence succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained 30 years earlier while investigating a minor traffic accident on US 93 south of Jackpot, Nevada.

Unbeknownst to Deputy Lawrence, the suspect had just been released from the California Department of Corrections. Upon his release, he went to his former cellmate's home where he murdered two people and stole their car. Several campers in the area were helping the man stay warm as they waited for an officer to respond to the accident.

As Deputy Lawrence began to run the man's driver license, the man approached him and suddenly shot him once in the forehead with a .22 caliber handgun. He then fired again, but missed, before taking Deputy Lawrence's service revolver. Two armed citizens then shot and killed the subject as he opened fire on bystanders in an attempt to steal a vehicle to escape.

Deputy Lawrence remained in a coma for several days. He suffered severe brain damage and remained completely disabled in an assisted living home until passing away from medical complications of the wound.

Deputy Lawrence was a U.S. Navy veteran and had served in law enforcement for a total of 26 years before he was shot. He is survived by his three sons and a daughter.

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I had the privilege of meeting Officer Lawrence in Jackpot Nevada in 1981. A medical problem involving an assault on a young person brought him to my medical office [I flew into Jackpot three times weekly to hold a medical clinic]. Denny Lawrence immediately impressed me with his professionalism and his humanity --- he was one of those rare persons one meets in life that leaves an immediate impression of what a human being should be. I don't understand why such good people are taken from us in this way. Denny Lawrence is remembered by me as a man amongst men and it remains an honor to have known him.
Richard Bargen, MD

Richard Bargen, MD
May 23, 2015


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