Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

The CV Sheriff Who

Gave His Life

There’s a new memorial at the CV Sheriff Station on Briggs. The native stone design holds a bronze plaque with the names of two local Sheriffs who died in the line of duty. The memorial, designed and funded from local donations, won’t be dedicated for a couple of weeks, so while we’re waiting I’ll tell you the stories behind the two names enshrined there.

Deputy David Horr had only been at the Montrose Sheriff Station for a few months on the evening of Dec. 7, 1957. He and partner Deputy Charles Manuel were dispatched to investigate a loud disturbance and possible gunshot at a house on La Crescenta Avenue just below Piedmont. For Deputy Horr this was just around the corner from his own house on Raymond Avenue where he lived with his wife and three boys, making this call “close to home.”

As the first officers on the scene, Horr and Manuel approached the small frame house from the front observing that all the lights were on. They knocked on the front door, but got no answer. They walked around the house to try the back door. Horr stood in front of the door and knocked while Manuel stood off to the side.

Deputy Horr’s knocks were answered sharply by a shotgun blast through the door. Over 100 16-gauge shotgun pellets hit Horr square in the abdomen, mixed with an equal amount of glass and screen door particles. Horr fell backward, and shouted a warning to his partner, “Get away! I’ll make it! Block off the street or somebody will get hurt!”

About 50 officers surrounded the house, and ordered the occupants out with a loudspeaker. After a brief standoff, a lone man walked out of the house and surrendered. The Browning shotgun was found in the attic of the house where the gunman had tried to hide it after firing the shot, with nine spent shells found inside the house.

Deputy Horr was taken by ambulance to Glendale Memorial and operated on by Dr. John Paxton and Dr. Frank Paxton, brothers. Deputy Horr was a mess internally. A section of his large intestine had been blown away, and the resulting fecal matter, mixed with the shotgun pellets, glass and rusty screen door particles created a toxic mixture that was impossible to clean out. He was in for a long and painful struggle with the resulting massive infections.

In a cruel irony, Deputy Horr’s mother Adah Horr had suffered a stroke just days before, and was a patient in the same hospital. She died several days later never knowing her son was fighting for his life just a few rooms away.

Deputy Horr fought death for weeks, battling constant infections and abscesses. All that was possible with ’50s era medical technology was done for him at Glendale Memorial, but it wasn’t enough. After several more surgeries, pints and pints of donated blood, and the primitive antibiotics available then, Deputy David Horr finally slipped away on Feb. 9, 1958.

Former CV resident Mike Love told me a very sad side-story to this unfortunate chapter in our local history. According to Mike, Deputy Horr’s wife was the den mother to the Cub Scout troop he was in, as was Deputy Horr’s son, and the son of the man who shot him. Mike says that in the pack meetings after the shooting, Mrs. Horr treated the murderer’s son no differently than the other boys. That took an incredible amount of strength.

Mrs. Horr soon moved away and eventually remarried, and her new husband adopted the boys. Deputy David Horr’s son, Donald Sutton, now in his early 60s, has perhaps sought some closure to his father’s death, and has been the guiding force behind a tribute of some kind to his dad. I’m proud that our community has answered so beautifully, and I urge you to pay a visit to this memorial, and watch for the announcement of its dedication in this paper.

Next week I’ll share the story of Reserve Deputy Charles Rea of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team.