Patrolman John Ernest Van Haaften

Patrolman John Ernest Van Haaften

Pella Police Department, Iowa

End of Watch Wednesday, April 9, 1980

John Ernest Van Haaften

Patrolman John Van Haaften was shot and killed while assigned to the Knoxville, Iowa, Police Department as an undercover narcotics officer.

He had just made an undercover purchase at a residence and entered the home to make an arrest. As he moved into one of the rooms another subject shot him in the chest with a .410 gauge shotgun. He was able to exit the home and call for backup before collapsing.

Patrolman Van Haaften had served with the Pella Police Department for two years. He was survived by his expectant wife and daughter.


  • Age 25
  • Tour 2 years, 2 months
  • Badge 20

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun; 410 gauge
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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I was a senior in high school nearby when this shooting occurred, and specifically remember hearing the news story on the radio that morning. Four years later I began my law enforcement career at the Pella PD where Van Haaften had worked, and heard many stories and reflections on Officer Van Haaften's short career there. He was well-liked by all who knew him.

Sgt. Steve Woody
Des Moines Police Department

April 9, 2015

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