Deputy Constable John J. Lerri

Deputy Constable John J. Lerri

Alameda County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch Tuesday, July 19, 1898

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John J. Lerri

Deputy Constable John Lerri was one of five deputies killed as a result of a powder magazine explosion in pursuit of a suspected murderer.

He served 5 years as a law enforcement officer and was survived by his wife, eight children, and his mother.

Deputy Daniel Cameron, Constable Gustave Koch, Deputy John Lerri, Deputy Charles White, and Deputy George Woodsum were killed when a powder magazine containing a barricaded murder suspect exploded at 5:18 a.m. The suspect was an employee of the California Fuse and Explosive Works Company and had murdered a coworker during a dispute over Chinese lottery tickets.

The suspect fled into the powder keg, which contained 5 tons of powder, and threatened to blow it up if anyone attempted to arrest him. The standoff continued overnight and into the morning until the suspect called Deputy White and told him he was ready to come out.

As the other deputies approached the magazine, it suddenly exploded, killing the five deputies, a female bystander, and the suspect and seriously injuring two other deputies. The California Fuse and Explosive Works Company was located in the current-day Melrose area of Oakland. The blast caused damage as far north as 13th Avenue, east on Merrill Avenue, and south to San Leandro.


  • Age 44
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Explosion


Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Constable Lerri,
On today, the 125th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you to you and your fellow Officers who were also killed in that incident for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Alameda County.


United States Border Patrol

July 19, 2023

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