Patrolman Kimberly Sue Tonahill

Patrolman Kimberly Sue Tonahill

San Diego Police Department, California

End of Watch Friday, September 14, 1984

Kimberly Sue Tonahill

Patrolman Kimberly Tonahill and Patrolman Timothy Ruopp were shot and killed by an armed suspect at the Grape Street Park.

The officers had located a vehicle in the park that contained two underage females and two males. While Patrolman Ruopp was writing a citation to one male for contributing to the delinquency of minors, Patrolman Tonahill was questioning the other male.

It was unknown to Patrolman Tonahill that the male she was questioning had a handgun concealed on his person. This male suddenly produced his handgun when Patrolman Tonahill began to search him. Patrolman Tonahill was shot in the side in an area where her vest did not protect. Immediately after shooting Patrolman Tonahill, the suspect then fired at Patrolman Ruopp. Patrolman Ruopp was struck in the leg and knocked down. The suspect then ran up to Patrolman Ruopp and shot him in the head.

A third officer then arrived at the park as a matter of routine cover. The officer had heard what sounded like gunshots about a block away from the park. The officer located the victim officers' patrol vehicles but did not see the officers. When this officer was investigating the situation, the hidden suspect fired at him. Though the officer was slightly wounded, he succeeded in wounding the suspect. The suspect escaped and made his way deeper into the park as arriving police units surrounded the location. When daylight appeared, the suspect was located and arrested for the murders of Patrolman Tonahill and Patrolman Ruopp.

The suspect was tried and convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death. While he was incarcerated at San Quentin's death row, the suspect hung himself several years after the incident.

Patrolman Tonahill had served with the San Diego Police Department for nine months. She was survived by her parents.


  • Age 24
  • Tour 9 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; 9 mm
  • Offender Committed suicide

suspicious vehicle

Most Recent Reflection

View all 35 Reflections

Kimberly, I met you briefly sometime in 1981 or 82 and I highly doubt you'd even remember our meeting but I remember you had spoken about your plans to join law enforcement. It wasn't much later that I was taking my oral board interview for the Border Patrol and I passed the interview but didn't know until I walked out of the Sector building that day that you had been murdered. Your death was so pivotal for me. I could have used it as an excuse to decline my acceptance letter a few months later but I chose to help it fuel me. We will never forget you or any of our Fallen. Rest in Peace my friend.

Retired SBPA Janalyn Buseck
US Border Patrol

November 12, 2018

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.