Police Officer James Albert Chew

Police Officer James Albert Chew

Steamboat Springs Police Department, Colorado

End of Watch Friday, July 28, 1972

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James Albert Chew

Officer Chew was shot and killed by an escapee from a Washington state prison. The suspect had been the focus of a manhunt in the area for several days but had not been located. Several hours after the search was called off, Officer Chew was advised that a car had just been stolen outside the town limits and headed into Steamboat Springs.

When Officer Chew located the vehicle, the suspect sped away. Officer Chew chased the man into a residential area where the suspect bailed out of the vehicle. Officer Chew immediately confronted the suspect and held him at gunpoint.

As Officer Chew's closest backup responded from approximately 20 miles away, the suspect asked if he could take off a heavy coat he was wearing because he was hot. When Officer Chew permitted him to do so, the suspect threw the coat over Officer Chew's head and attacked him, striking him on the head with a .44 caliber handgun he had found in the stolen car. The suspect then opened fire on Officer Chew, striking him several times.

A reserve deputy who lived nearby heard the radio traffic responded to the scene to offer his assistance. When he arrived at the scene, he could not locate Officer Chew but observed an unidentified man standing nearby. The deputy held the suspect at gunpoint until another officer arrived and located Officer Chew, who died a short time later.

The suspect, 26, had simply walked away from a honer house 29 days earlier near Vancouver. He had been transferred there from the Washington Penitentiary and was to be paroled again in January. He was serving a term for violating his parole related to an armed robbery conviction. It was soon discovered he had stole a handgun and a rifle from a nearby truck. It was then learned he stole a car minutes later. He was found guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state hospital.

Officer Chew was a United States Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Steamboat Springs Police Department for four years. He was survived by a son and two daughters.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge 2
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .44 caliber
  • Offender Committed

EDP, escapee, stolen vehicle

Most Recent Reflection

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Hi Al, It’s fifty years ago today (7-28-22) since you paid the price and I still think of you every single day. You were a good FTO, teacher, and friend. Thanks.

Eric Mellgren, Retired
Steamboat Springs PD

July 29, 2022

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