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Aug. 20, 2012
A simple “road rage” incident led to the shooting deaths of four rookie California Highway patrol officers in the Newhall section of Santa Clarita on April 5, 1970. The officers’ deaths led to major changes in how the California Highway Patrol and other police departments train their officers.
by Mark Pulham
Santa Clarita, in Southern California, is the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County. It is known as the home of Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, though the park is actually just outside the city limits.
The city, just 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, was, in 2006, ranked as number 18 in the top 100 places to live by Money Magazine. On a list of cities that have at least 100,000 inhabitants, it is ranked as the sixth safest in the United States, according to the FBI.
The southernmost, and the oldest, district in Santa Clarita is Newhall, a location for many television shows and movies, such as the 1954 suspense film Suddenly in which Frank Sinatra’s character attempts to assassinate the President of the United States as he passes through town.
But to many, the name of Newhall is synonymous with one thing, an incident that occurred in April, 1970. At the time, Newhall was more rural than it is now, some may even have described it as a “sleepy town.” In one night, that image would change.
It began with a small event, a minor occurrence that should have blown over a moment after it had happened, and then forgotten. Instead, what happened snowballed into a major tragedy.
It was around 11:20 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, 1970. Jack Tidwell was driving south along Interstate 5 from Gorman, California. Sitting next to him in the passenger seat was his wife, Pamela. Jack was a sailor with the U. S. Navy, and the couple was heading home to Port Hueneme Naval Base, where Jack was stationed.
As they drove their Volkswagen along near the area known as Pyramid Rock, a red Pontiac in the northbound lane was heading toward them. As the two cars got closer, the driver of the red Pontiac decided to make an illegal U-turn. The Pontiac suddenly turned, crossed the center divide, and almost hit the Tidwell’s Volkswagen.
It was no doubt a scary couple of seconds, but the incident was over, no one was hurt, the event had passed. That should have been the end of it. But probably shaken, and certainly angry, Jack wasn’t going to let it go. The carelessness of the other driver had annoyed Jack, and he felt he needed to say something. It was a small incident of road rage, but the process of escalating the incident had begun.
The Pontiac had slowed down, and the Volkswagen managed to catch up to it. Jack pulled alongside, matching the speed, and Pamela rolled down her window so that her husband could call out to the other driver. Jack shouted at the man in the other car, telling him exactly what he thought of his driving, and just to make certain he understood, Jack said that he would like to “kick his ass!”
Now, the driver of the Pontiac, Bobby Augusta Davis, was also angry. Both vehicles slowed down and came to a stop. Davis took the already escalating incident up one more notch by pulling out a .38 snub nose revolver. He aimed it at the couple and called Jack a “smart punk.”
Further down the road, headlights were approaching. Jack pointed back and said that a California Highway Patrol unit was coming along. Davis took one look, and then motioned for them to drive away, an opportunity they immediately took.
Davis put the gun away and drove off himself. The headlights were not those of a CHP unit, it was just a truck. Jack had lied.
The serviceman and his wife sped away and looked for a telephone so they could call the highway patrol and report the confrontation with the gunman. Eight miles south of where the incident took place was Violin Canyon Road, and it was there that they finally saw a telephone. It was just on 11:36 p.m.
Pamela picked up the phone and dialed the police. She was put through to the Newhall office of the California Highway Patrol, where the call was answered by Jo Ann Tidey.
The Tidwell’s reported that a man had pulled a gun on them, and they gave a description of the man and the vehicle, a late model GM car. They were also able to give the license number and said that there was only one person in the car.
A check on the registration showed that the vehicle was a 1964 Pontiac two door, and that it was registered in Orange County. There were no warrants on the car.
The Chase Is On
Within a minute, Newhall dispatch had put out a call about the incident and unit 78-8 responded. The two officers in unit 78-8 were Walter C. Frago and Roger D. Gore. Both men were just 23 years old and both rookies, with less than two years on the force. Both men knew each other well, both men had grown up in Merced, and both now lived on the same street, Walnut Street, in Newhall. Frago was married to Nikki and they had two daughters, Amorette, aged 4, and Gabrielle, aged 3. Gore was also married, but he and his wife, Valerie, only had one child, an 18-month-old daughter named Elyce.
After they got the incident report, Gore and Frago drove to Castaic Junction, hoping that they would be able to intercept the car there. Although the report said the suspect was carrying a gun, Gore and Frago were unlikely to be worried. With the area being rural, it was a popular hunting and shooting location, and so the incident was reported as a misdemeanor. The police were often getting reports of people with guns which, upon investigation turned out to be just farmers.
At 11:54 p.m., Newhall dispatch received a call from unit 78-8. They had spotted the red Pontiac and were following the suspect vehicle. By this time, there was no longer just one person in the Pontiac. Davis had picked up his partner, 35-year-old Jack Wright Twinning. Davis and Twinning were both career criminals, with Twinning having a record that stretched back over 20 years with convictions for bank robbery, and at this time, he was on parole for assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon. Beginning at the age of 16, Jack Twinning had spent time in eight different federal penitentiaries, including a five-year stretch at the notorious Alcatraz, during which time he killed a fellow prisoner in self defense.
Bobby Davis, although at 27 was eight years younger than his partner, was no better and also had a long criminal record. Davis had frequently remarked on how much he hated cops, and that he rather kill them than go back to jail.
Both men had met in prison and had become friends, and knew they would get together once they were on the outside. In May, 1969, Twinning was released from a federal penitentiary in Florida, and three months later, Davis was released from another prison. Davis and Twinning got together in Houston, Texas. Both men were unemployed and decided to drive to Sacramento. The plan was that they would commit a series of bank robberies, but for some reason, they were unsuccessful.
The two men rented an apartment in Long Beach, and they noticed an armored car making cash deliveries to the Santa Anita Park racecourse. The two men, recognizing an opportunity, came up with a scheme to hijack the armored car as it left a freeway off ramp. Their plan involved the use of explosives. Some time before, both men had been driving along the I-5 and saw a construction site near Gorman. They decided that they would steal the explosives needed for the robbery from there.
On April 5, Twinning and Davis headed into the surrounding country just off the I-5. They had spent the day practicing with the weapons they had gathered, including shotguns, handguns and rifles. After some hours of practice, they drove down to get the explosives. After Twinning was dropped off, Davis drove away so they could test the walkie-talkies they were using.
It was around this time, while Davis was on his own, that the near crash with the Tidwell’s Volkswagen took place.
Between then and the time Officers Gore and Frago had caught up with the Pontiac, Davis had picked up Twinning and they were back together. Both Davis and Twinning had noticed the patrol car behind them, and they knew that if they were stopped, the arsenal they had in the back of the car would be found. There was no way that they were going to be arrested.
Back in the CHP patrol car, Gore and Frago requested some backup. Unit 78-12 responded.
Officers James E. “Skip” Pence and George M. Alleyn in unit 78-12 had stopped two miles away on the southbound on ramp at Valencia Boulevard where they waited as the red Pontiac and the patrol car with Gore and Frago approached.
Both Pence and Alleyn had a lot in common with Gore and Frago. Like them, they were also young, both only 24 years old, and both had young families. Pence was married to Janet and had two children, a boy, Jay, who was just 14 months old, and a daughter, Theresa, who was 3. Alleyn and his wife, Shirley, also had a 3-year-old daughter, Julie, and a 9-month-old boy, Kevin.
Like Gore and Frago, both men were rookies, also with less than two years on the force.
Unit 78-16R, carrying Officers Holmes and Robinson, also responded to Gore and Frago’s request for backup, but they were three miles away in Saugus. They started to head over, but when they heard unit 78-12 radio that they were almost there, unit 78-16R went back to their normal patrol.
The Pontiac, closely followed by the CHP unit with Gore and Frago, exited the freeway at Henry Mayo Drive, and then pulled into the Standard Service Station at J’s Coffee Shop at Henry Mayo and Old Highway 99, close to what today is the Magic Mountain Parkway and The Old Road intersection. The Standard Service Station was open 24 hours, so the area was well lit. In the restaurant, there were around 30 witnesses, including a church choir that had stopped by for a late night meal. They all had a ringside seat for the events that were about to unfold, and all were able to describe what happened next.
And what happened next changed law enforcement procedure forever.
A Fatal Stop
Unit 78-8, with Gore driving, pulled into the parking lot at J’s Coffee Shop, following the Pontiac. Both vehicles stopped, with the CHP unit a few feet behind the Pontiac. Unit 78-8 radioed dispatch and reported that the suspect vehicle had parked at J’s Coffee Shop. Gore turned on the red spotlight, while Frago did the same with the white spotlight. It was still only 11:54 p.m., not even a minute had passed since their radio call that they were following the suspect vehicle.
It’s likely that the two officers were not expecting trouble; this was, after all, just a routine call. Both Gore and Frago got out of the patrol car and walked toward the Pontiac. Gore had drawn his service revolver, a .357 Magnum, and had it trained on the suspect car. Frago was carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, a Remington model 870 pump action. The stock was held against his hip while the barrel was pointing upwards into the air, in what is known as a “port arms” position.
Gore shouted to the occupants of the suspect vehicle, “Get out with your hands up!”
There was no response from the car.
Gore repeated the order three times, along with “We told you to get your hands up!”
Finally, they got some response. The driver’s side door opened and Bobby Davis got out. Gore ordered him to lean against the car in a search position. Davis, following the order, placed his hands on the car. Gore moved forward to begin a search of the suspect, moving about five paces and staying just to the left.
As Gore did this, Frago also moved forward toward the passenger side of the car, his shotgun still held in the port arms position. It is not known whether he had chambered a round or not.
Just as Frago reached the passenger side and reached for the door handle, the door opened abruptly.
Frago yelled, “Hold it!”
They were the last words he would ever say.
Jack Twinning had turned in his seat. In his hand he held a four-inch Smith & Wesson model 28 revolver. Twinning quickly fired two shots and two .357 caliber rounds hit Frago in the chest. The young officer died almost immediately.
Gore heard Frago’s last words and the shot, and immediately turned to his right, and no doubt saw his partner fall to the ground. Twinning, who had by this time got out of the car, fired a shot at Gore, and Gore fired one round back, missing Twinning, but hitting a car that was parked in the lot.
Gore’s attention was now divided between the driver and the passenger, and he took his eyes off Davis for a fraction too long. Davis saw the opportunity and used it, pulling the Smith & Wesson .38 Special from his waistband, most likely the same gun he’d used to intimidate the Tidwell’s. Davis began shooting at the officer, and two bullets hit Gore in the chest, passing through the left front and lodging in his back on the right side. Officer Gore dropped to the ground, and just like his partner, died almost immediately.
At this point, just as Gore died, James Pence drove the second CHP unit, 78-12, into the parking lot. It was now 11:56 p.m.
At Newhall dispatch, Pence’s agitated voice came over the radio, “11-99, shots fired, at J’s Standard.” An 11-99 is an “officer needs help” call
Newhall dispatch rebroadcast the call, and unit 78-16R, with Holmes and Robinson, responded, as did several other units. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Station also received the call, and several of their units also responded.
|Crime Scene Photo
As unit 78-12 pulled into the parking lot, Twinning and Davis opened fire on it. Unit 78-12 came to a stop to the left of the first patrol car and Davis opened fire on Pence and Alleyn. Pence, now out of the patrol car, positioned himself behind the open drivers’ side door of the unit and returned fire.
Jack Twinning had emptied his revolver, so he ducked back inside the car to get another weapon. He emerged with a Colt 1911 .45 caliber automatic, but only managed to fire one shot before the gun jammed. He dropped the jammed weapon and ducked back inside the car.
Officer Alleyn came out of his side of the unit with a shotgun, and chambered a round. He moved back toward the rear of Gore and Frago’s patrol car, then round to the passenger side door, positioning himself there, where he began to fire at the suspects, both of whom had now ducked back inside the Pontiac for more weapons. He fired three rounds at the suspects, one of which shattered the rear window of the Pontiac. One of the pellets from this blast hit Twinning in the forehead, causing pain, but little damage.
Davis came out of the Pontiac with a 12 gauge sawed off shotgun, while Twinning emerged with a second Colt 1911 .45 caliber pistol. Davis managed to move to a position between the two patrol cars and fired the sawed off through the open drivers side door of unit 78-8 and across the seat. The shotgun blast hit Alleyn in the face, chest and his left hand. It’s likely that in a reflex action, Alleyn pumped the shotgun, ejecting a live round, though it has also been speculated that he ejected it by accident before he began shooting, forgetting in the chaos that he had racked a live round as he got out of the vehicle. Whatever the case, Alleyn’s shotgun was now empty.
Alleyn managed to stumble to the rear of the patrol car where he withdrew his .357 service revolver, and began firing at each of the two suspects.
Davis fired yet again, and the buckshot hit Alleyn in the face. Alleyn buckled, but then stayed on his feet, using the trunk of the patrol car to support himself. Blood poured from his face, which he brushed away, knocking his hat onto the trunk of the unit. His vision was blurred and he was dizzy, yet he still fired the gun, until he finally fell to the ground, his life slowly beginning to slip away.
Gary Dean Kness was a 31-year-old computer operator, a former U.S. Marine, and a veteran of the Korean War. He was driving to work and saw what was happening. At first he thought it was just filming going on, but soon saw that this was not play-acting, this was real. Immediately, he drove his car into the lot and parked around 200 feet behind units 78-8 and 78-12.
Kness saw Alleyn fall to the ground and, unarmed, ran from his car to the fallen officer. Seeing that Officer Alleyn was barely alive, he grabbed him by the belt and tried to drag him to safety. But Alleyn was heavy and Kness was unable to move him.
Davis had now dropped the sawed off and had taken Frago’s .357 Magnum service revolver. Davis began moving toward Kness along the passenger side of the Pontiac. Kness looked around and, seeing Alleyn’s shotgun, picked it up. He aimed at Davis and pulled the trigger, hearing a click as it fell on an empty chamber. He pumped the shotgun and pulled the trigger again, and once again just heard a click.
|Crime Scene Photo
Kness dropped the shotgun and picked up Alleyn’s service revolver.
Davis, by this time, had retreated to the front of the Pontiac.
Using a two handed grip, Kness aimed at Davis and fired. The bullet missed, but struck the Pontiac, causing the bullet to fragment. Two of the fragments hit Davis in the chest, but they were not enough to stop him. Kness tried to fire again, but the revolver was also now out of ammunition.
While this was going on, Pence and Twinning were having their own shootout. Twinning had moved around to the left front of the Pontiac and was returning Pence’s fire. Pence, still behind the open drivers’ side door of unit 78-12, emptied the gun, and now had to reload. Pence retreated toward the rear of the patrol car and began reloading from the dump pouch on his belt, one bullet at a time.
Twinning, seeing his chance, moved out from the front of the Pontiac and began shooting at Pence, two bullets hitting him in the chest, the other two hitting his legs, one of which was broken by one of the bullets.
Severely wounded, Pence continued to reload.
Twinning quickly crossed the gap, moving around the left side of the patrol car. As Pence loaded the last bullet in his revolver, Twinning appeared right next to him.
Kness heard Twinning say, “I’ve got you now, you dumb son of a bitch.” Then there was a single shot as Twinning executed Pence with a bullet to the back of the head.
With all the officers dead or dying, and himself now out of ammunition, Kness knew that he was in an impossible situation. He turned and scrambled to a drainage ditch at the side of the road and took cover.
Just as he got to the ditch, more patrol cars arrived. The first was unit 78-16R with Officers Holmes and Robinson. Immediately, Davis and Twinning turned their fire on them, the two officers returning fire. The two men jumped into the Pontiac and drove off, both of them still carrying Walt Frago’s weapons, Twinning the shotgun, Davis the revolver.
By the time the next patrol car arrived, carrying Sergeant Harry Ingold and Officer Roger Palmer, the parking lot was full of citizens all pointing out the direction that the speeding car had taken.
During the shootout, more than 40 rounds of ammunition had been expended, but only 15 had come from the weapons of the officers. On the ground lay four officers, three of them dead, and one, Officer George Alleyn, barely alive. He would take his last breath on the way to the hospital.
From the moment the red Pontiac had stopped at J’s Coffee Shop to the moment it sped away into the night, the whole tragic incident had taken just four and a half minutes.
Davis and Twinning didn’t drive very far, just 150 yards to the end of a dead end street, where they abandoned the car and set out on foot, heading north. After a while, both men split up, and Davis headed east while Twinning headed west.
Davis followed the course of the Santa Clara River as it winded its way east and then curved north. Eventually, he came to the San Francisquito Canyon. By this time, it was 3:25 a.m., on Monday, April 6. Parked alongside a dirt road, Davis came across a 1963 International Scout Camper. Inside, sleeping, was Daniel Schwartz. Davis demanded that Schwartz get out of the camper, but Schwartz refused and told him to go away. Davis was angry, and fired one round from Frago’s revolver through the door.
But Davis was not the only one with a weapon. Schwartz’s answer was to return fire with a WWII Enfield revolver.
Davis, now involved in his second gunfight of the night, retreated a safe distance and called to Schwartz, telling him he will set fire to the camper if he didn’t get out. With no choice, Schwartz opened the door and came outside, where Davis grabbed him and pistol whipped him with the now empty revolver.
Davis left Schwartz beaten and bloody and drove off in the camper and headed along the San Francisquito Canyon Road toward the Antelope Valley in the north.
Although severely beaten, Schwartz managed to walk to a nearby utility station where he telephoned the police and told them what happened, giving a description of the camper and the license number.
At 4:15 a.m., the police broadcast a description of the camper and a Los Angeles County Sheriff unit from Lancaster responded. The unit drove to the San Francisquito Canyon road and staked it out. Soon, the suspect vehicle was seen as it approached. The unit blocked the road and the camper came to a stop. Davis was out of ammunition and knew that he had no choice. The deputies ordered him out of the camper with his hands up. Davis exited the camper and gave himself up.
After he split up with Davis, Twinning headed west for a while, crossing the Old Highway 99 and then doubled back to head south parallel to the freeway. He walked for three and a half miles until he reached Lyons Avenue. By coincidence, he had come out just a few hundred yards north of the California Highway Patrols Newhall Area office.
It was just after 4 a.m. when 41-year-old Glenn S. Hoag and his wife were awakened by the barking of their dog, Tillie. The Hoags lived at 24748 Pico Canyon Road, just behind the Denny’s on Lyons Avenue. Glenn climbed out of bed and went to see what the dog was barking at. When Glenn didn’t come back, Mrs. Hoag went to see what was happening. She saw through the living room window that her husband was being held by a man with a gun. She immediately called the police. Within a short while, more than 200 officers had surrounded the Hoag’s home.
Twinning, still bleeding from the forehead, forced the couple into the kitchen, where Mrs. Hoag, to keep her mind occupied and off the situation, made breakfast.
The Police Close In
The Hoag’s told Twinning that their 17-year-old son was asleep in the guest house at the back of the main house, and when there was a knock on the door, Mrs. Hoag said that it must be her son. Twinning told Mrs. Hoag to go and let him in. When she opened the door, what she found was a sheriff’s deputy. He grabbed her and led her to safety. The son, Jeff, was also wakened by the deputies and led to safety.
The police established contact with Twinning, who seemed unrepentant and casually boasted of how Frago was killed and said, “He got careless, so I wasted him.”
A reporter also managed to talk to Twinning, a short interview that was recorded.
Reporter: “What do you plan to do?”
Twinning: “I just wanted a few more minutes to live before I die, that’s all.”
Reporter: “Why do you think you have to go that way?”
Twinning: “Well, I’ve been in (prison) before, and I don’t want to go back again, and … I figure it’s better for me to do it myself than to let them do it for me.”
Reporter: “Of course, if you’re held in California … you know there hasn’t been an execution in California for a long time.”
Twinning: “Nobody’s killed four Highway Patrolmen in a long time, either.”
The standoff lasted several hours, during which time the police tried to get Twinning to release his hostage and give himself up. Finally, around 9 a.m., Lieutenant Rudy Vasquez of the Newhall Sheriff’s office persuaded Twinning to let Hoag go. As part of the deal to let Hoag leave the home, Twinning asked that he “have time to think.”
The sheriff’s department said he could have one hour.
By 10 a.m., Twinning’s time was up, and he was ordered out, but he never emerged. The order was given to storm the house. There was a volley of tear gas launched into the home and an assault team of six California Highway Patrol officers, all with gas masks, entered under the cover of the gas. They were led by Sergeant Robert Lindblom. With the tear gas thick inside the home, the assault team was unable to see where Twinning was, so they made their way through the house with extreme caution.
Suddenly, just as they approached the hallway, they heard the sound of a shotgun blast. Immediately, the team returned fire, believing that Twinning, with nothing left to lose, was shooting at them, making a final stand.
When the gas finally cleared and they were able to get to Twinning, they found that he had not been harmed by the return fire.
The shotgun blast they had heard was not aimed at them. Twinning, probably sensing the inevitable, had taken the CHP shotgun that he took with him from the gun battle, and placed the muzzle under his chin. He had then pulled the trigger.
Davis would answer for the deaths of the four California Highway patrolmen, and an additional charge of robbery, all on his own.
Davis Sentenced to Death
Davis’s trial began in mid-October and he pleaded “Not guilty.” Despite the defense argument that at the time of the shooting, his client was acting without his full mental capacity, on Friday, November 13, Bobby Davis was found guilty on all charges. He was sentenced to be executed in the gas chamber. On hearing his death sentence, Davis turned to his right where nine officers of the California Highway Patrol were sitting and gave them a grin. But in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, declaring that it was a cruel and unusual punishment, and the following year, Davis’s death sentence was changed to life in prison.
For many years, Davis was held at Folsom State Prison, but was later moved to Pelican Bay State Prison, which housed some of California’s most notorious prisoners. On August 8, 2008, Davis was moved to the maximum security Kern Valley Prison.
Just over a year later, on August 16, 2009, Bobby Augusta Davis, aged 67, was found hanging in his cell, dead.
Learning from Tragedy
|The Widows - Mrs. Alleyn, Mrs. Pence, Mrs. Gore, and Mrs. Frago - Newhall wall dedication, 6-5-1970|
The Newhall Tragedy forced the authorities to look closely at several aspects of police procedures and how officers were trained. It seemed that a lack of training led to mistakes being made. One was the port arms position that Frago used to carry his shotgun. Another was the fact that Alleyn may have ejected a live round during the confusion, though he may have ejected it after being shot in a reflex action. If it was ejected earlier, a longer training session would possibly have stopped that from happening, though that is not a certainty.
There were also the targets that were used during training. They were bull’s-eye targets, which may have been okay for target practice, but in a real life situation, no suspect looks like a bull’s-eye, and the suspect is not standing still. Now training involves moving, human shaped silhouettes, giving the officers a more realistic idea of what they may come up against, and the human shapes helps the officer get conditioned to shooting at a person. The officer also has to move, learn to fire from behind obstacles at targets that are also obscured in some way.
During the shootout, not one of the officer’s shots from their revolvers hit the target, and there was a good reason. During training, the officers used .38 Special ammunition. They were used to this type of bullet, they had used it often. But in the field, they used .357 Magnum bullets, which have a much greater recoil and brighter muzzle flash. This led to the inaccuracy of their shots. In essence, they were using unfamiliar weapons. Davis and Twinning had a considerable advantage; they had just been practicing with their weapons and were very familiar with them.
Not long after the tragedy, the California Highway Patrol issued, as standard, the same caliber ammunition as the ones the officers had used during training.
In a situation such as the Newhall shooting, a second can be the difference between life and death. James Pence died because seconds were wasted while he reloaded his weapon. The dump pouch on his belt dispenses six rounds into the officer’s hand when he opens the flap. The officer then has to sort them and insert them into the chambers of the revolver one bullet at a time. Some officers call the dump pouches by another name, suicide pouches. However fast he loaded, it had to have taken several seconds – seconds that enabled Twinning to flank him and fire a shot into Pence’s head.
Shortly after the Newhall shootout, the California Highway Patrol approved and issued speed loaders to their officers, the first state police department to do so. If Pence had a speed loader, it could have been Twinning who died at the scene instead.
The lessons learned at Newhall are still taught in police training today, and the California Highway Patrol created an acronym so that officers would remember their training.
N-Never approach a danger situation until you are adequately prepared and supported.
E-Evaluate the offense and determine if you might just be dealing with something more dangerous than it looks.
W-Wait for backup.
H-Have a plan.
A-Always maintain the advantage over the opponent.
L-Look for the unusual.
L-Leave the scene when in doubt.
A monument to the four officers who died that night stands at the current Newhall California Highway Patrol office at 28648 The Old Road, Valencia. It is a small brick monument, with a plaque containing each of the officers’ names, and behind, stands four cypress trees, one for each of the fallen men.
In April, 2008, a five-mile stretch of the I-5 in Santa Clarita was renamed in their honor. It runs past the scene of the shooting. The grandchildren of the officers helped unveil a large sign which reads, “CHP Officers James E. Pence, Jr., Roger D. Gore, Walter C. Frago, George M. Alleyn Memorial Highway.”
Officials at the ceremony hailed the four men as heroes. Then, they pointed into the crowd. There were 300 people attending the ceremony, but the finger pointed at one man, Gary Kness, now aged 69. He was proclaimed as one of the heroes of that night – a night which began as a small incident of road rage.
It was a painful and tragic way to learn lessons, but from the Newhall Incident came improvements in training and procedures that have surely saved the lives of many officers over the years since.
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