On this date in 1970, four California Highway Patrol officers were killed in a shootout with two heavily armed criminals. Officers Walt Frago and Roger Gore initiated a felony traffic stop north of Newhall. The suspect vehicle was reportedly operated by a man who had brandished a gun during an altercation with a motorist earlier in the day. What the officers didn’t know was that the two men in the car, Jack Twinning and Bobby Davis, were heavily armed and had just been practicing with their weapons in preparation for a planned robbery.
Officer Frago approached the car with a shotgun as Officer Gore covered Davis while Davis exited the car. Twining flung open the passenger side door and opened fire on Officer Frago with a revolver. When Officer Gore turned to engage Twining, Davis drew a gun and opened fire on Gore. As the two pairs of men exchanged gunfire, CHP Officers George Alleyn and James Pence arrived on the scene and joined the fight. All four officers were mortally wounded. Davis and Twining suffered only minor wounds at the hands of the officers and Gary Kness, a Marine Corps veteran who happened on the scene during the shootout and attempted to assist the officers by firing on the gunmen using one of the fallen officer’s guns.
Davis and Twining grabbed some weapons and left the scene on foot as a third CHP cruiser arrived. Davis was arrested shortly afterward in a stolen camper. His ammo supply depleted, he offered minimal resistance to officers. Twining was cornered in a house a few miles from the scene of the shootout. After a standoff that lasted several hours, he took his own life with Officer Frago’s shotgun.
Davis was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life in 1972 after a US Supreme Court ruling invalidated death penalties across the country.
LA Times – CHP Honors Slain Officers
Officer.com – April 6, 1970 Police tactics would never be the same
Wikipedia – Newhall massacre