Memorial to Harold K. Shelton

End of Watch: May 3, 1959
Rank: Officer   Badge No. N/A
Age: 22   Years of Service: 1 year
Location of Death:  7th and L Street, NW
Duty Assignment:  Second Precinct

 

Circumstance:

Officer Shelton and his partner were returning to the station at the end of their shift when a citizen reported a shooting. During the chase, the suspect hid in a doorway and shot Officer Shelton as he passed by. As Officer Shelton was dying, he stood and emptied his revolver at the suspect. The suspect was found guilty of Officer Shelton’s murder and sentenced to 9 to 28 years in prison.

Biography:

Officer Shelton had been employed with the Metropolitan Police Department for one year. He was survived by his wife and son.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE 1959 SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER HAROLD K. SHELTON, AND THE LATER GOOD FORTUNE OF THE ARRESTING OFFICER IN THE CASE. NOTE THE JUDGES REMARKS AT SENTENCING.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 3, 1959, PAGE A1
Policeman Shot Dead At 7th & L

Killed by Gunman Who Had Wounded 2 Women in Fight
A gunman who already had wounded two women in a restaurant fight shot and killed a Second Precinct policeman early today in the 700 block of L St. NW.

Dead on arrival at Washington Hospital Center was Pvt. Harold K. Shelton, 22, 5029 N Capitol St, a policeman since April 21, 1958. Attendants said he had been shot in the abdomen.

Second Precinct Lt. John J. Kenny said a suspect in the shooting was arrested after he attempted to shoot a second policeman who had not yet been advised of the previous gunplay.

Kenny said the tragic sequence of events began when a man ran out of the B & L Restaurant at 1144 7th St. NW., and hailed the scout car in which Shelton was riding with a police trainee, Joseph M. Anzallo. The man told them two women had been shot and that the gunman had fled down an alley.

Shoots at Fugitive
Shelton gave chase and exchanged several rounds of fire with the fugitive.
Two women witnesses told police they saw Shelton emerge from the alley in the 700 block of L St. NW., with a man firing at him as he backed out. He told them to get some more policemen and then sat down on the curb to reload his own revolver.

He was found sprawled dying in the street, his gun beside him.

Meanwhile, Pvt. Vincent E. Stewart, on foot patrol in the neighborhood, encountered the gunman in a church doorway near 8th and L sts. NW. The man had a gun pointed at him and Stewart ordered him to drop it.

On Empty Chamber
Instead, the man pulled the trigger and the hammer clicked on an empty chamber. As Stewart closed in on him, police said, the man threw the weapon under a parked truck where police recovered it. They identified it as a 38-caliber Smith & Wesson target pistol, containing five expended shells.

Little could be learned immediately of the restaurant phase of the shooting. In Freedman’s Hospital, were Willie Mae Walker, 33, of 1115 O St. NW., shot in the right side, and Mildred Thomas, 23, of 441 Newton place NW., shot in the right leg. The Walker woman’s condition was described as “critical.”

Booked for investigation of homicide at the Second Precinct was Alexander Truesdale, 34, a laborer, of 333 17th pl. ne. He was charged with Pvt. Shelton’s murder early this morning by homicide squad detectives after questioning at headquarters.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 4, 1959, PAGE A12
Death at Midnight
It is a policeman’s lot to receive a thousand complaints about the way he conducts his unavoidable unpleasant tasks.

Motorists are outraged by the impertinence of a traffic ticket, book lovers irritated by the incursions into “indecent” literature, and the public in general aroused whenever a sensational crime is not promptly solved. We acknowledge that on frequent instances we have joined the critics, and for this we make no apology.

But every now and then it is good to take note of the very real perils of police work and of the bravery expected of the cop on the corner. The death of Pvt. Harold K. Shelton in a gun battle in the Second Precinct is such an occasion. He died in the line of duty—as the cold official phrase goes— but there can be nothing cold about the feelings of the community concerning his valor in a moment of supreme test.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY, 4, 1959, PAGE A1

Truesdale Is Held In Police Slaying
Arraignment of Alexander Truesdale, 34, charged with homicide in the slaying of Police Pvt. Harold K. Shelton, was continued yesterday until May 12 by United States Commissioner James F. Splain.

Splain granted the continuance at the request of Truesdale, who asked for time to consult an attorney.

Police said preliminary arraignment was made on a Sunday in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Mallory decision calling for speedy arraignment in capital cases.

The stockily built Truesdale, a laborer, listed at 2403 H St. ne, is being held without bond at District Jail. He is accused of fatally shooting Shelton, 22, of 5029 N. Capitol St., in the 700 block of L St. NW., early yesterday after wounding two women in the B & L Restaurant, 1144 7th St. NW., shortly before midnight Saturday.

One woman, Willie Mae Walker, 33, of 1115 O St. NW., who was shot once in her right side, was reported in serious condition at Freedman’s Hospital yesterday. The other woman, Mildred Thomas, 23, of 441 Newton pl. NW., who was wounded in the left ankle, was treated at Freedman’s Hospital and released.

Shelton, who was graduated from the Police Training School last Nov. 30 with the highest scholastic average in his class, had been assigned to the Second Precinct on foot patrol since his graduation.

His wife, Barbara, 19, mother of seven-month-old son, Donald Earl Shelton, said her husband came to Washington in April. 1958, to follow the footsteps of his older brother, Earl Shelton, 25, of 5101 Clark St. se., a police private attached to the First Precinct.

“He liked his police work and was going to stay with it,” Mrs. Shelton said yesterday at the home of the Earl Shelton’s.
Capt. Alexander F. Douglas, commander of the Second Precinct, said that Young Shelton was a “very good officer who had great promise.”

Douglas said that Shelton and his partner, Pvt. Joseph M. Anzallo, 23, attached to the Training School and detailed to the Second Precinct, were walking along 7th St. NW., enroute to the precinct station to go off duty at midnight Saturday, when they came upon the restaurant shooting.

At 7th and M Sts., Shelton and Anzallo heard a man shouting, “Hey, police,” Douglas said, and they stopped to investigate.
As they crossed the street, James Bethea, the bartender in the B & L Restaurant, ran out and told the policeman that two women had been shot inside and that the gunman had fled west on M St.

Shelton and Anzallo spotted a man running and took up the pursuit, which led into an alley between M and L Sts.

Shelton Runs Ahead
Anzallo said he was out-distanced by Shelton, who ran through the alley as the gunman vanished from sight at the L St. outlet. Suddenly, Anzallo reported, he saw two pistol flashes.

As Anzallo emerged from the alley, he saw Shelton staggering backward across L St., emptying his revolver at the still fleeing gunman, who apparently fired at Shelton from the shadow of a church door near the mouth of the alley.

Shelton fell on the south curb of L St. as Anzallo reached him, fatally wounded by a .38-caliber slug which pierced his chest, passing through a lung and lodging in his heart.

Shelton, who was also wounded in the left ankle, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Washington Hospital Center at 12:10 a.m.

More than half a dozen policemen converged on the scene of the shooting within minutes after the outburst of gunfire and chased the gunman west on L St., and north on 8th St. into a parking lot near 8th and M Sts. NW.

Police Pvt. Vincent E. Stewart, who had been on foot patrol nearby, said he found Truesdale hiding behind a parked truck and ordered him to drop his gun. Instead, Stewart reported, the gunman pointed his pistol at him and snapped the trigger, but the hammer fell on an expended shell.

Stewart said he wrestled the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Truesdale to the ground as Pvt. Kenneth O. Beckwith and about six other policemen came to his aid.

Stewart said it took the combined strength of all of the policemen to subdue the gunman, who suffered two scalp abrasions.
The incident which set the tragic chain of events in motion started in the B & L Restaurant when the Walker woman became involved in an argument with Truesdale over a hat she claimed Truesdale had taken from a male acquaintance of hers about a month ago, Douglas said.

Douglas reported police believed the shot that nicked Miss. Thomas ankle was the same slug which pierced the Walker woman’s side.

Douglas said the weapon used by the gunman, a .38-caliber target pitol containing five expended shells, was found under the truck in the parking lot where Stewart first saw him hiding.

Insp. Loraine T. Johnson said that funeral services for Shelton would be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Hysong’s funeral home, 1300 N St., NW. The body will be sent by train to Fayetteville, W. Va., for burial in Garten.
In addition to his wife and son and brother, Earl, Shelton is survived by his mother, Edna, three other brothers, Buford, William and Guy Douglas Shelton, and four sisters, Betty, Janice, Virginia and Jean. All but William, who lives in Auburn, Calif., are from Garten.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 6, 1959, PAGE C2

Colleagues Join Family Rites for Slain Policeman
Policemen wearing the blue, brown, and gray uniforms of a dozen jurisdictions joined the family and friends of Harold K. Shelton yesterday in funeral and memorial services for the slain Metropolitan patrolman.

Led by Washington Police Chief Robert V. Murray, the men formed in military order on N. Capitol St. near Missouri Ave., then marched slowly into the Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church.

Outside, the Metropolitan Police Band played a brief program of hymns, then stopped abruptly as the Rev. John A. Holt entered the simple white church, its 650 seats filled to overflowing.

Pvt. Shelton’s casket rested in front of the pulpit; around it cascaded bouquets of bright spring flowers.
The policeman, just 22, was slain early Sunday in the 700 block of L St. NW. Police have charged Alexander Truesdale, 34, with murder, and have also accused him of shooting two women in a tavern before killing Shelton.

Shelton’s wife, Barbara, 19, his brother, Earl, a First Precinct patrolman, and his mother, Edna, sat with his other brothers and sisters in the first pew.

They heard Mr. Holt call Shelton “a man who has done for us what was needed to be done.”

“In carrying out of his duty he gave the last full measure of his devotion. The risk that he took was done so that others might have peace and liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Mr. Holt said.

“In one very real sense,” he added, “we are involved in this tragedy, as human beings of social responsibility. What killed Harold Shelton,” he said, “was a disease of society which prays upon all individuals.”

When the 26-minute service was over, the police units formed again outside, as six police friends of the dead man bore his body past an honor color guard. He will be buried Thursday, in his home town, Garten, W. Va. Besides his wife, he leaves a 7-month-old son, Donald, at their home, 5029 N. Capitol St.

Official delegations attended the funeral from Shelton’s Second Precinct, the Training Division, from which he was recently graduated with top scholastic honors, the First Precinct, and several Government, military, Maryland and Virginia jurisdictions.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 1, 1959, PAGE B3

Guilty Plea Entered in Police Death
Alexander Truesdale, 34, pleaded guilty to second degree murder yesterday in the shooting last May of Police Pvt. Harold K. Shelton.
Truesdale entered the plea just before the trial for first degree murder was about to begin before District Court Judge Charles F. McLaughlin. Assistant United States Attorney Thomas A. Flannery told McLaughlin the plea was acceptable to the Government. McLaughlin postponed sentence until receipt of a probation department report.

Truesdale faces a term of up to life imprisonment plus additional terms for assault with a dangerous weapon on two women, which he also admitted yesterday. The policeman was shot as he chased Truesdale after responding to a call from a café where the two women were injured.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 9, 1960, PAGE B3

Alexander Truesdale, 34, who pleaded guilty to shooting Police Pvt. Harold K. Shelton to death last May in an incident somewhat similar to that in which another policeman was slain Thursday, was sentenced to a 9-to28-year prison term.
Shelton, 22, who lived at 5029 N. Capitol St., was killed as he chased Truesdale after a fight in a restaurant at 1144 7th St. NW. Shelton had run an alley, exchanging shots with Truesdale, and then backed out to reload his gun.

Truesdale shot him in the abdomen as the officer sat on a curb in the 700 block of L St. NW.

Truesdale was arrested minutes later after he tried to shoot another policeman, Pvt. Vincent Stewart of the Second

Precinct, when Stewart discovered him standing in a church doorway.
Truesdale was indicted for first degree murder and for two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon on two women who were shot in the restaurant fight. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and to both counts of assault.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arthur J. McLaughlin asked Judge Charles F. McLaughlin for the maximum sentence—life imprisonment.

The judge said that one does not pronounce a sentence in wrath or in undue leniency. He mentioned that Truesdale had only a minor police record before the shooting and had a good reputation in the community from which he came.
Truesdale attorney, Dennis k. Lane, told the judge that Truesdale came here only after his wife had died. He said Truesdale “had been drinking very heavily” just before the murder.

 

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 21, 1960, PAGE B7

City Policemen, Firemen Honored for Heroism
Deeds of eight Washington Policemen and eight firemen who demonstrated courage to capture criminals or save lives were formally honored by the city last night.

Sixteen awards—gold, silver or bronze medals and certificates—were distributed at the Washington Board of Trade’s annual meeting in the Mayflower Hotel. Recipients for fiscal year 1959 were selected by the Commissioner’s Committee of Award for Valor.

These were the gold medal winners:
Police Department—posthumously to Pvt. Harold K. Shelton, Second Precinct policeman killed last May 2 in a battle with a gunman who had just wounded two persons.

Bronze bars were presented to Police Pvts. Vincent E. Stewart, 30, of the Second Precinct, and Lawrence L. Chambers, 29, of the Traffic Division. Stewart captured the gunman who killed Pvt. Shelton and Chambers halted a driverless car as it rolled toward a crowded pedestrian crosswalk at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

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(THE ACTUAL TIME TRUESDALE SERVED IS UNKNOWN.)