Deputy Marshal Ralph J. Zahnle

Deputy Marshal Ralph J. Zahnle

Harbor View Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Thursday, November 7, 1929

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Ralph J. Zahnle

Deputy Marshal Ralph Zahnle was shot and killed as he and his partner attempted to stop two vehicles suspected of transporting liquor through town.

They had spotted the vehicles on Sylvania Avenue and drove ahead to the intersection of Sylvania Avenue and Jackman Road. As the first vehicle passed their location, they attempted to pull out. The second vehicle purposely rammed their car, and the occupants immediately opened fire with rifles. The suspects fired over 20 rounds into the vehicle, fatally wounding Deputy Marshal Zahnle. His partner escaped injury by taking cover on the car's floorboard. The suspects then fled on foot.

Four suspects were eventually apprehended. One was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 19 years and 11 months in prison on April 15, 1930. He arrived at the State Penitentiary in Columbia on April 20. The next day, he was one of 322 inmates who died in a fire at the penitentiary. This was the worst fire in Ohio's history and in American prison history. He was one of five cop killers who died in the fire.

Deputy Marshal Zahnle was a U.S. Army WWI veteran and had served with the Harbor View Police Department for only three months. He was survived by his wife and three young children.


  • Age 33
  • Tour 3 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender Died in prison fire.

alcohol violation, traffic stop

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NEVER FORGET! On behalf of the Ohio Attorneys General Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, we honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Deputy Marshal Ralph J. Zahnle of the Harbor View Police Department, Ohio and the additional 80 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer
Ohio Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

November 7, 2023

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