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Fallen Heroes

We honor these brave officers and their families.

Sadly, across the country, many law enforcement officers will lose their lives this year while performing their duties. The Steve Young Memorial Scholarship Program, created by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, is administered by the National Fraternal Order of Police Foundation to assist the spouses of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

It’s not how these deputies died that makes them heroes. It’s how they lived.

Dedicated to these brave deputies who have been given the last call and their families.


Deputy David Wargo

May 1, 2012
In 2003, MCSO Deputy Wargo suffered terrible brain trauma when he approached a driver who was acting suspiciously. The driver attempted to flee and Wargo was dragged several yards as he tried to stop the vehicle. His head hit a curb causing severe head and brain trauma. On May 1, 2012, Deputy Wargo succumbed to the injuries he incurred in 2003 .

Deputy William “Bill” Coleman

Deputy Sheriff William Coleman, age 50, was shot and killed while responding to a burglary call in Anthem at approximately 4:15 am January 8, 2012. As he and another deputy arrived at the scene they encountered a male subject inside of a van at a medical building near the intersection of Anthem Way and Gavilan Peak Parkway. As they attempted to make contact with the man he opened fire on them with a rifle, striking Deputy Coleman below his vest. The suspect was killed by return gunfire from other deputies. Deputy Coleman was transported to John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. Deputy Coleman had served with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. He is survived by his wife and several children, two of whom are 4 and 7 years old. Last year, 2011, was one of the deadliest in recent history for law enforcement officers, with 173 killed in the line of duty as of Dec. 28, 2011, a 13 percent increase from 2010, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Of those, 68 federal, state and local officers were killed by gunfire in 2011, a 15 percent jump from the year before. So far in 2012, there have been four officers killed in the line of duty, all by gunfire.

Deputy Gary Labenz

October 10, 2005
Deputy Gary Labenz suffered a fatal heart attack in San Antonio, Texas, while returning to Arizona from participating in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans, Louisiana. The relief team Deputy Labenz was assigned to rescued more than 100 citizens and recovered more than 50 bodies while conducting recovery efforts. After their assignment was over, the team stopped in San Antonio for the night on their return trip home. Deputy Labenz suffered a heart attack in his hotel room that evening. His body was found by other deputies the following morning. Deputy Labenz had served with the agency for 19 years. He was survived by his wife and four children.

Deputy Kenneth R. Blair

September 28, 1995
Responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex near Luke Air Force Base, Deputy Blair called for a backup but decided to enter the apartment alone when he heard a woman screaming. Blair was gunned down as he entered. The gunman, who was standing in a bedroom doorway, shot Deputy Blair once in the head and three times in the chest before using his last rifle bullet to kill himself. Deputy Blair had no chance to use the pepper spray in his hand, and the bullets that struck him all hit above his protective vest. Backup arrived seven minutes later.

Deputy Edwardo M. Gonzales

August 28, 1995
While joining the pursuit of a burglary suspect, Deputy Gonzales swerved to avoid hitting a car entering the intersection at 59th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road. His patrol car slammed into a parked cement truck, and Gonzales died at the accident scene.

Sergeant Patrick J. Riley

March 11, 1994
Sergeant Pat Riley was struck by a dump truck and killed while directing traffic at a construction site on 64th Street and University Drive. Though he was working an off-duty job, his death qualifies as a line-of-duty because he was authorized by his supervisor to perform this function restricted to peace officers. Riley had directed a truck to proceed through an intersection and make a left turn. During the turn, the left rear fender struck him, throwing the Sergeant to the ground. He was run over by both sets of rear tires and died approximately two hours later.

Deputy Vernon Marconnet

June 30, 1988
On patrol near 35th Avenue and Carver Road, Deputy Marconnet stopped to investigate two suspicious vehicles. He found a father and three sons who had been drinking and arguing. Just after he called for a backup, 911 operators received a call that an officer was in trouble. Deputies arrived to find Vern dead beside his car. After Marconnet put the older man into the patrol car, one of the sons grabbed Vern’s gun. Deputy Marconnet was killed execution style with his own weapon. All four family members were tried and convicted for the murder.

Corporal Darrell “Bud” McCloud

May 13, 1985
Corporal “Bud” McCloud was on a routine traffic call at 2100 hours when his life was taken in a collision at the intersection of 107th Avenue and Camelback. Passers-by pulled him from his patrol car and administered CPR until paramedics arrived, and then he was flown to the hospital where he died of his injuries. Ironically, Darrell died during Law Enforcement Memorial week.

Deputy James L. Epp

March 1, 1978
A posseman with more than twenty years as a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office volunteer, Reserve Deputy Jim Epp drowned while attempting to rescue two women trapped in their car when Cave Creek Wash flooded.

James Epp was carried away while trying to attach a chain to their car, and his body was found about a mile downstream several hours later. The two women were brought to shore

Deputy Ralph K. Butler

June 12, 1972
On a summer Sunday morning Deputy Butler was patrolling Highway 60 west of Wickenburg when he received a radio call for assistance at a double fatality accident near Wittmann. After turning his car around off of the pavement, he pulled back on the road directly in the path of a large tractor-trailer truck. Pinned in the wreckage, Butler waited more than an hour and a half for an ambulance to come from Phoenix because the local emergency vehicles were in service twenty-five miles away at the earlier accident. After emergency treatment in Wickenburg, Deputy Butler was taken by Helicopter to Phoenix for surgery, but the next evening he died of injuries received in the collision.

Deputy Warren LaRue

January 18, 1971
In a single day, two veteran deputies were killed while serving a civil writ of attachment. At 1300 hours they arrived at 5344 East Van Buren Street to repossess a mobile home in satisfaction for an $833 bank judgment. The owner shot Deputy LaRue in the back four times and then engaged in a shoot out with Deputy Stone. All three died at the scene.

Both of these line-of-duty deaths had sad and unusual circumstances. Deputy LaRue was only fifty-nine days short of his twenty-five year retirement, and Deputy Stone’s son, a Phoenix Police officer, had been killed in a motorcycle accident only three weeks earlier while going to the aid of a downed officer.

Deputy Rex A. Stone

January 18,1971
In a single day, two veteran deputies were killed while serving a civil writ of attachment. At 1300 hours they arrived at 5344 East Van Buren Street to repossess a mobile home in satisfaction for an $833 bank judgment. The owner shot Deputy LaRue in the back four times and then engaged in a shoot out with Deputy Stone. All three died at the scene.

Both of these line-of-duty deaths had sad and unusual circumstances. Deputy LaRue was only fifty-nine days short of his twenty-five year retirement, and Deputy Stone’s son, a Phoenix Police officer, had been killed in a motorcycle accident only three weeks earlier while going to the aid of a downed offic

Lieutenant Robert L. Dorn

August 31, 1965
Lieutenant Bob Dorn stopped to assist an apparently stalled car at 91st Avenue and Glendale Avenue. The driver had been recently visited by deputies inquiring about delinquent taxes. In a panic over the possibility of losing his trailer home, the man jumped out of his truck and began firing with no warning. The fatally wounded Dorn returned fire. A passing motorist went to a phone and called the Sheriff. When deputies arrived, they found the Lieutenant’s body lying beside his unmarked patrol car. The man who killed him was located within the hour and charged with murder after his non-serious wounds were treated.

Deputy Gerald Barnes

October 5, 1957
Deputy Gerald Barnes drowned while pinned in the wreckage of the Sheriff’s four passenger Tri-Pacer after it crashed into the Arizona Canal seven miles northeast of Scottsdale. Barnes and Deputy Frank Grove were serving as observers while Sergeant Paul Mullenix piloted the plane in a search for a stolen truck and a car used in a holdup. When the low flying plane stalled, it’s landing gear hit a power line and toppled the plane into a four foot deep canal. Witnesses irrigating a nearby field helped rescue the pilot and the Deputy in the front seat, but Deputy Barnes was trapped in a rear seat, and they were unable to reach him in time.

Deputy Burtice W. Wickstrum

January 8, 1951
Deputy Wickstrum died of injuries suffered in a late night collision at the intersection of Third Avenue and Filmore Street. He and Deputy C.H. Russell were rushing to a reported sighting of a wanted killer when the accident occurred. Wickstrum was thrown from the patrol car and run over by it’s rear wheels after it struck a tree. Deputy Russell escaped injury; the other driver recovered; and the reported sighting proved to be the wrong man.

Special Deputy Edward Roberts

July 21, 1937
On a July morning Special Deputy Edward Roberts was summoned to Southwest Cotton Camp # 53 in Litchfield in response to reports that J.R. Murdoch, foreman of the camp, had been killed by a drunken employee that he had fired. As Roberts hurried towards the camp, the enraged laborer stepped out from behind a cabin and fired a shot. The wounded deputy slumped to the ground, unable to defend himself while his assailant grabbed Roberts’ own gun, using it to fire a second and fatal shot. Before backup from the Sheriff’s Office got to the scene, a foremen from a nearby camp arrived and killed the slayer in a pitched gun battle.

Deputy Lee Wright

January 29, 1930
Deputy Lee Wright and two fellow deputies attempted to stop a car carrying kidnapping suspects and their hostage, Pinal County Deputy Joe Chapman. During a gunfight at a roadblock, Chapman was wounded, but he survived. The shots that struck Deputy Lee Wight proved fatal and he died sixteen days later. Though the suspects fled the scene, all three were captured with the aid of a volunteer pilot flying a monoplane and using a deputy and a reporter as spotters. One suspect was sentenced to life in prison for Deputy Wright’s murder, and the other two died in a Pennsylvania electric chair for killing a Pennsylvania Highway Patrolman.