Police Officer Thomas Joseph Keller

Police Officer Thomas Joseph Keller

Torrance Police Department, California

End of Watch Thursday, April 17, 1986

Thomas Joseph Keller

Police Officer Tom Keller was shot and killed after responding to an armed robbery call.

The suspect had entered a sporting goods store at approximately 3:45 pm and displayed a handgun. The workers and customers fled the store and called police. The suspect then armed himself with a M1 carbine rifle that the storekeeper kept for protection.

As Officer Keller and other officers arrived the suspect exited the store with the rifle in his hand. Officers ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, but the suspect retreated into the store. The suspect then took up position behind the counter and opened fire out the window. One shot grazed Officer Keller in head, causing him to stand from behind his cover. He was then struck with a second shot in the side, just above his bullet resistant vest. The round struck Officer Keller in the heart, killing him.

Other officers returned fire, striking the suspect several times. When the SWAT team arrived on scene, they entered the store and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Officer Keller had served with the Torrance Police Department for four years and had previously served with the United States Marine Corps, as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, and as an Explorer Scout with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Officer Keller was survived by his parents, brother and two sisters.


  • Age 25
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle; M-1
  • Offender Committed Suicide


Most Recent Reflection

View all 46 Reflections

I remember the day clearly. My Uncle, (Charles) Terry Taylor was part owner of the shop in question, Torrance Sporting Goods. This tragedy weighed heavily on Terry's heart until his passing a few months ago. He sold the store following this event.

I hope Officer Keller and Terry got together in the hereafter so my uncle could thank him for his brave sacrifice.

The finest of Torrance's (and California's) Finest.

Daniel Brownlee (Retired P.I.)

October 29, 2018

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