Officer John A. Vickers

Officer John A. Vickers

El Centro Police Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, May 3, 1977

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John A. Vickers

Officer John Vickers and Officer Arthur Hennesay were shot and killed when they were ambushed as they answered a complaint of a stuck car horn in a motel parking lot.

As Officer Vickers was looking for the owner he was shot three times. Officer Hennesay arrived of the scene and was shot through his windshield. The next officer, arriving on the scene, arrested one suspect, a 22-year-old man, as two others ran from the scene. The other two suspects, a 24-year-old man and his 17-year-old wife, were captured at a nearby motel.

Three hours later the parents, of the first suspect arrested, were found shot to death at a motel they managed in San Diego. The car with the stuck horn belonged to them. All three suspects lived at the motel with them. All three were charged with four counts of murder. The two male suspects were convicted of four counts of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Officer Vickers had served with the El Centro Police Department for two years. He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

Bio

  • Age 30
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge 321

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle; .30 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

ambush

Most Recent Reflection

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In 1987 I was a Police Officer in a neighboring city but I knew I wanted to be an El Centro Officer. One day I was on a ride along with Officer Joe Ramsey #324 (Joe retired In 1995 and died July 2019). Joe took me to the site of where this tragedy took place and told me what transpired. He also told me that he had to quit the department for a while as it hit him hard, he eventually came back. While on that ride along the El Centro PD Chief offered me the job, two weeks later I was sworn in as an El Centro Police Officer. My Sergeant when I was done with my field training was on duty that fateful night, Vickers and Hennesay were part of his squad. At the time he was an officer and officers also did dispatch duty, it happened to be his night as a dispatcher, he also told me the story of what transpired. Whenever I had a civilian ride along I took them to the trailer park where this happened. One thing when I started with ECPD my issued badge was generic, no number on it, if we wanted our number on it we were authorized to buy one. The Officers who had been issued this badge would scratch their initials into the back of it, one of the set of initials was JV, I can only guess it was for John Vickers. I know this wouldn’t have been the badge worn that fateful night as they retired both Officers Badge Numbers. I medically retired in 92 and moved away. A few years ago thanks to social media I found out that Imperial County had done a memorial for fallen Officers in the county. I contacted an El Centro Officer who was involved in it and told him about my old badge. He was going to investigate and try to find it as the PD changed the style of the badges and he wanted to post it at a small memorial museum. I lost contact with that officer but I hope he found it.

Officer Don Barrows
El Centro PD - Retired

July 25, 2019

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