Sheriff Howard V. Trafton

Sheriff Howard V. Trafton

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch Saturday, September 5, 1925

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Howard V. Trafton

Sheriff Howard Trafton and Undersheriff Richard Rountree were shot and killed while attempting to remove a squatter who was living in a shack at Seacliff Park, near Aptos.

The man refused to leave and was placed under arrest. After placing handcuffs on one of the man's wrists the man suddenly drew a handgun and opened fire, killing Undersheriff Rountree and shooting Sheriff Trafton in the chest. Despite his wound, Sheriff Trafton was able to return fire during the shootout and killed the subject. Sheriff Trafton was able to give his account to other responding officers. He succumbed to his gunshot wounds in the hospital.

A search of the shack revealed an arsenal of explosives.

Sheriff Trafton had served as the Santa Cruz County Sheriff for 22 years and had previously been the Chief of Police in Watsonville. He was survived by his wife and two sons.


  • Age 54
  • Tour 22 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Shot and killed


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Rest in peace always knowing that no passage of time will ever erase your service and sacrifice.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

September 5, 2020

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