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Patrolman Ralph East | Pilot Mountain Police Department, North Carolina Pilot Mountain Police Department, North Carolina


Ralph East

Pilot Mountain Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch: Monday, February 3, 1969

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 60

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun; .22 caliber

Offender: Died in prison

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Officer East and Officer Branscome were killed when they stopped a vehicle occupied by four men wanted for armed robbery. The suspects had robbed two Forsyth County service stations, one in Winston-Salem, the other in Rural Hall. One suspect used a 22 caliber pistol to shoot both officers, then obtained Officer East's service weapon (38 caliber) and shot each officer again. The suspects were arrested in Winston-Salem a short time later.

The gunman was convicted of two counts of murder and received two death sentences on November 21, 1969. His sentence was commuted to two life prison sentences when the Supreme Court ruled all death sentences unconstitutional in 1972. He died in prison December 14, 2011.

The other three suspects received 10 years each for accessory to murder and an additional 30 to 40 years for armed robbery on November 21, 1969. One of the three was released from prison on July 18, 1985. Another one was released on November 24, 1992, and sent back to prison for 10 years on June 5, 2001, for armed robbery.

Officer East was survived by his five children.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Patrolman Glenn L. Branscome
Pilot Mountain Police Department, North Carolina
End of Watch: Monday, February 3, 1969
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection

Ralph East was my grandfather. I loved him as much as he loved me. I stayed with my grandparents a lot. He took me for rides in his squad car many times, which was a very big deal to a little girl. This was such a tragedy, and even though I was young when this happened, the memories I have of that night in my home cross my mind randomly, and I feel the sadness. That's a phone call no family should have to get ...
The memorial walk held in Pilot Mtn. each year typically on the 1st Saturday of February is a great remembrance for 2 great men that made the greatest sacrifice.

Debbie Tucker Forkel
January 25, 2017


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