Earlier this year, Long Beach Patrolman William Homer Waggoner was enrolled in the Los Angeles County Peace Officers’ Memorial, after historical research deemed appropriate. Officer Waggoner passed away in 1954 as a result of injuries sustained in a gun battle nearly 24 years earlier. In anticipation of his 2016 enrollment in the Long Beach Police & Fire Memorial, the California Peace Officer’s Memorial, and National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, Long Beach Police are requesting the public’s help in locating his relatives.
William H. Waggoner was born in Missouri in 1894. In 1929, at the age of 34, he became a Patrolman with the Long Beach Police Department. On December 21, 1930, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Officer Waggoner and his partner, Officer C. A. Jenks, came upon a suspicious vehicle parked along the side of the road on Pico Street near the docks. The officers noticed four men inside the vehicle and stopped to investigate what they believed to be suspicious activity. Unbeknownst to the officers, they interrupted a group of associates of a well-known Chicago mobster who were in the middle of carrying out a kidnapping for ransom scheme and were headed to a gambling ship to transfer ransom money.
Officer Waggoner questioned one of the men who had exited the vehicle while Officer Jenks contacted the men seated in the back seat and ordered them out of the vehicle. As they proceeded to exit, one of the men reached back into the car, turned, and began firing at the officers without warning. As gunfire exchanged between the two officers and three of the four men, Officer Waggoner ran toward the front of his patrol vehicle and dropped to the ground. Officer Jenks, believing his partner had stooped to reload his revolver, reloaded and reengaged the suspects who then fled on foot in different directions. When Officer Jenks joined his partner in front of their patrol car, he realized Officer Waggoner had been shot. About the same time, Officer W. E. Slaughter arrived on scene after apprehending one of the fleeing suspects. The other suspects were subsequently arrested.
During the gunfight, Officer Waggoner was stuck by a bullet that lodged near his spine, causing partial paralysis from which he was never able to recover. On December 18, 1954, he passed away in Seaside Hospital in Long Beach. The Coroner’s register listed a “gunshot wound of the spine” as a contributory factor and his death was officially ruled a homicide.
Long Beach Police would like to speak with any of Patrolman William H. Waggoner’s relatives. At the time of his death, he and his wife Mary were living in the 2400 block of Golden Avenue and he was survived by a son, a daughter, grandchildren, two sisters, and three brothers. His relations resided in Long Beach, Fresno, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City. Family members or anyone with contact information to reach a family member is asked to contact Detective Eric Hubbard at (562) 570-7305 or Eric.Hubbard@longbeach.gov