Deputy Sheriff Harold Lee Thornton

Deputy Sheriff Harold Lee Thornton

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, California

End of Watch Wednesday, August 23, 1967

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Harold Lee Thornton

Deputy Sheriff Harold Thornton was shot and killed by a former mental patient after responding to a stabbing call at 604 Olivero Street in Modesto.

The suspect opened fire on Deputy Thornton with a .38 caliber revolver, striking him several times. Although mortally wounded, Deputy Thornton returned fire and wounded the suspect, who was then taken into custody. Deputy Thornton was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

The suspect was sentenced to death but the sentence was changed in 1972 to life without parole when the death penalty was abolished. The suspect died in prison on September 9th, 1980.

Deputy Thornton had served with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department for six years. He was survived by his wife and six children.


  • Age 33
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 38

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Died in prison


Most Recent Reflection

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You will never be forgotten. Rest well my brother.

Ed Smith
Modesto Police Department (ret)

August 23, 2021

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