Sergeant John William Bonnell, III

Sergeant John William Bonnell, III

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana

End of Watch Tuesday, July 10, 1979

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John William Bonnell, III

Sergeant John Bonnell was shot and killed during an undercover narcotics operation.

Sergeant Bonnell was working with a confidential informant when they picked up the suspect in order to purchase cocaine during Operation Checkerboard. The suspect advised they would have to go to New Orleans 30 miles away in order to obtain the narcotics. The last thing other detectives heard Sergeant Bonnell say on his wire was "Do we have enough gas to get to New Orleans?" Some time later the confidential informant called the New Orleans Police Department to report a shooting.

Sergeant Bonnell was in the front seat of the vehicle while a second subject was driving. The primary suspect was in the rear passenger seat with the confidential informant when they arrived at the Desire Housing Project in New Orleans East. The suspect exited the vehicle and without provocation shot Sergeant Bonnell in the back of the head killing him instantly. The man also shot and wounded the confidential informant. The suspects then fled but were apprehended by New Orleans police officers a short time later.

The man who shot Sergeant Bonnell was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Sergeant Bonnell had served with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office for two years and had previously served with the Baton Rouge Police Department for one year. He was survived by his wife and child.


  • Age 23
  • Tour 3 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life

undercover, narcotics

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