In April of 1970, two California Highway Patrol officers were informed via radio that a suspicious vehicle had been reported. The passenger had been seen with a weapon.
The officers, Walt Frago and Roger Gore found the car and started following it. They called for additional backup and initiated the stop.
The suspect stopped the car in a parking lot. Gore and Frago told the driver to exit the vehicle and put his hands on the car’s hood. Gore walked up to the driver while Frago went to the passenger.
The passenger, Jack Twinning, flung his door opened, jumped out, firing at the officers. Frago took two shots to the chest. Gore was shot at once and quickly returned fire.
The driver, Bobby Davis, took the opportunity to grab his gun and shoot Gore. The two CHP officers died instantly.
Officers George Alleyn and James Pence pulled into the parking lot prepared to provide back up or Gore and Frago.
However, they saw the vehicles, but neither the suspects nor the other officers. Shots were coming out of nowhere. Pence sent out a call for more help.
Taking cover, he hid behind a passenger door. Alleyn armed himself with a shotgun and took cover behind the driver’s side door. In the gunfire exchange that ensued, both of the officers received mortal wounds and they hit a suspect.
Searching for the Suspects
Both Twinning and Davis got away. They abandoned their car and went their separate ways.
After a nine hour search, Twinning was found in a home, holding a man hostage. Tear gas was used before the officers entered the home. Twinning used a shotgun from Officer Fargo to kill himself.
Bobby Davis was caught by the police and sentenced to death. However, in 1972 the death penalty was declared to be cruel and unusual punishment by the California Supreme Court.
Davis’s sentence was adjusted to life in prison, dying in Kern Valley Prison in 2009.
As a result of the Newhall incident, the CHP changed many of its processes to prevent a repeat incident.
Equipment like police batons was used more and pepper spray was added to every officer’s tool belt. Training changed to better prepare officers for these scenarios in hopes that four women would not be widowed and seven children would not be left fatherless again.
Source: California Highway Patrol