Sheriff James Albert Petray

Sheriff James Albert Petray

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch Sunday, December 5, 1920

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James Albert Petray

Sheriff James Petray, Sergeant Jackson of the San Francisco Police Department and Officer Lester Dorman of the San Francisco Police Department were shot and killed as they attempted to arrest three suspects in their home. The suspects had kidnapped and brutally attacked two girls in San Francisco and had been tracked to Santa Rosa. As the three officers entered the home of the suspects to arrest them, one suspect opened fire with a revolver and shot all three men. Before he fell dead, Sergeant Jackson was able to shoot and wound one suspect.

Deputies surrounded the house and all three suspects were arrested later in the day and brought to the local jail.

Five days after the killings, an angry group of approximately 30 men demanded the killers be turned over to them to be hanged. After a standoff the mob finally prevailed and the suspects were dragged from their cells and hung. This was the last lynching to take place in Sonoma County.

Sheriff Petray had been with the agency for two years and was survived by his wife and three children. He is buried at Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg.


  • Age 55
  • Tour 3 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; Revolver
  • Offender Lynched

Most Recent Reflection

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Sheriff Petray,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Sonoma County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

December 5, 2020

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