Correctional Officer Gary Lee Rowe

Correctional Officer Gary Lee Rowe

United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Government

End of Watch Monday, February 7, 1983

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Gary Lee Rowe

Correctional Officer Gary Rowe succumbed to injuries received when he was attacked by nine inmates who were attempting to escape from MCC San Diego in San Diego, California.

A string made out of dental floss, 160 feet long, was being lowered from a window to the ground where a man waited. He was going to tie a rope to the string to be pulled back up when Officer Rowe entered their cell.

The inmates attacked him with an iron bar, stripped him from a locker, and bashed his head against the cell wall knocking him unconscious. The inmates then shoved him under the cell's bed, where he was located by other officers who began searching for him. He never regained consciousness before passing away.

Five inmates, 18, 21, 22, 36, and 38, were charged with murder, and four were charged with attempted escape. Two of the five, 22 and 38, were identified as the killers who bashed Officer Rowe's head against the cell wall. In July of 1983, the suspect, 22, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life to go along with his existing term of one year for illegal entry. The suspect, 18, was sentenced to four years. Three others were sentenced to 10 to 20 years. Another was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years. The convicted inmates were sent to federal prisons.

Officer Rowe was a United States Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran. He was survived by three children.

He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Knox, Starke County, Indiana.


  • Age 30
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Location California
  • Weapon Blunt object
  • Offender Sentenced to life

escape attempt, prisoner custody

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Rowe,
On today, the 40th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country-not just as a Law Enforcement Officer but also when you served with the USMC in Vietnam. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!
A fellow LEO;former Marine

United States Border Patrol

February 7, 2023

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