Patrolman John Ernest Van Haaften

Patrolman John Ernest Van Haaften

Pella Police Department, Iowa

End of Watch Wednesday, April 9, 1980

Add to My Heroes

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

View all 12 Reflections


Posted on April 7, 2020 KNIA KRLS NEWS

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the line of duty death of Pella Police Officer John E. Van Haaften, and current officers and staff are marking the occasion by wearing special memorial bands.

Each year, a memorial is posted in front of the Pella Police Department to remember the sacrifice of John Ernest Van Haaften. He served for just over two years at the department when he was killed during an undercover drug bust in Knoxville on April 9th, 1980.

Sharyl Hanthorn was married to Van Haaften, and has established the John E. Van Haaften memorial scholarship, which is given to a Pella or Pella Christian senior during the annual Dollars for Scholars awards nights.

Retired Police Officer

April 7, 2020

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

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