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Police Officer Thomas Joseph Keller | Torrance Police Department, California Torrance Police Department, California

Police Officer

Thomas Joseph Keller

Torrance Police Department, California

End of Watch: Thursday, April 17, 1986

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 25

Tour: 4 years

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Rifle; M-1

Offender: Committed Suicide

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Officer Keller was shot and killed after responding to an armed robbery call. The suspect had entered a sporting goods store at approximately 1545 hours and displayed a handgun. The workers and consumers fled the store and called police. The suspect then armed himself with a M1 Carbine Rifle that the storekeeper kept for protection.

Officer Keller arrived with several other officers. As they arrived, the suspect exited the store with the rifle in his hand. Officers ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, but the suspect retreated into the store. The suspect then took up position behind the counter and opened fire out the window. One shot grazed Officer Keller in head, causing him to stand from behind his cover. He was then struck with a second shot in the side, just above his bullet resistant vest. The round struck Officer Keller in the heart, killing him.

Other officers returned fire, striking the suspect several times. When the SWAT team arrived on scene, they entered the store and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Officer Keller had served with the Torrance Police Department for four years and had previously served with The United States Marine Corps, as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and as an Explorer Scout with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Officer Keller was survived by his parents, brother and two sisters.

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I was living above Frank's liquor store at the time of the incident and was evacuated because of the gun fire. I later found out that Officer Keller had been mortally wounded and I was shocked.

I pass by his memorial on the corner of Sartori and Cabrillo every day and was just want to say a few words.

Ron Mitchell

August 7, 2015


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