Officer Don A. Beckstead

Officer Don A. Beckstead

Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona

End of Watch Sunday, February 7, 1971

Add to My Heroes

Don A. Beckstead

Officer Don Beckstead was shot and killed after stopping a suspect who had just shot and killed Officer James Keeton minutes earlier.

Officer Keeton had stopped the man for a traffic violation on I-40, just prior to the New Mexico border, and a struggle ensued. The suspect gained control of Officer Keeton's weapon and shot him with it. It is believed that Officer Beckstead did not know that the man had just shot and killed Officer Keeton when he stopped the suspect a second time.

The man was wanted for raping and murdering a young girl in California. After shooting both officers the man murdered another citizen before being shot and killed by New Mexico State Police officers.

Officer Beckstead was survived by his wife and two sons.


  • Age 28
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 409

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Friday, February 5, 1971
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Shot and killed

fugitive, sex offender, traffic stop

Most Recent Reflection

View all 26 Reflections

Dear Don,

You would've been my grandfather if that horrible tragedy hadn't happened all those years ago. And my dad would've grown up remembering his father. But even though I didn't know you when you were alive, you've still made a big impact on my life through my dad, and my grandmother.

I had the privilege the other day to get a glimpse into your life when we listened to a cassette of you and Gramzey (my grandma) at my Uncle's House. And I learned a lot more about who you were as a person. It felt surreal to hear your voice, but I'm happy I got the chance to. And afterwards, we talked about you, and what you had been like. It was so nice to get to know you a little bit better. And just today, my car mechanic saw the sticker of your face on my car and had looked up your story, and talked to me about it. He said it was truly an American story and that you were a hero. I have to agree with him.

You would be so incredibly proud of the people that your sons have become. My dad is one of the kindest, most fearless, best people I know, and I admire him so much. I know you would too. He's also dedicated his life to helping others, just as you did. And my grandmother is the strongest, kindest person too. She did an amazing job raising them, despite everything, and I look up to her too. I'm very sad things have happened the way that they did. But I'm also happy to say it has allowed me the chance to know my grandfather, Papa Joe, who is a wonderful, loving man.

I hope you know I still think about you, and wonder what it would be like if you were still here. And that you live on in the stories others tell me about you.

Your Granddaughter, Sydney

Sydney Beckstead
Granddaughter, Family

August 20, 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.