Policeman Joel N. McDonald

Policeman Joel N. McDonald

Columbia Police Department, California

End of Watch Friday, November 26, 1858

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Joel N. McDonald

Policeman McDonald and Constable John Leary were shot and killed during an operation to arrest three professional thieves.

The officers had noticed the three suspicious men loitering around the town and came up with a plan to determine their motives. Policeman McDonald approached the men out of uniform and began talking with them. After he earned the men's trust, it was suggested that Policeman McDonald and the three thieves would rob a house together and then go back to Policeman McDonald's saloon to divide the loot. McDonald informed Constable Leary of the plan, and the two agreed that Leary would hide at the saloon during the robbery so that the suspects could be taken by surprise.

The robbery went as planned, but the robbers grew suspicious as they approached the saloon because they noticed a light was on. They asked Policeman McDonald what the light meant. Because they were unsatisfied with his answer, they drew a gun and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. They then fled the scene.

Three days later, Constable Leary located the suspects and was attempting to arrest one of them when the suspect pulled out a gun and fatally shot him.

Two of suspects were captured within days of the incident and lynched by angry citizens. The third suspect was shot and killed during an arrest attempt.

Policeman McDonald had previously served as a Policeman in Stockton, CA.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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Constable McDonald,
On today, the 160th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Columbia.


United States Border Patrol

November 26, 2018

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