On December 23, 1976 in a hail of gunfire two deputies lay critically wounded on the pavement of a bank parking lot on Florence Avenue, along with two mortally wounded suspects. As if this was not enough, the nightmare continued as Sergeant Al Kopperud was critically injured in a traffic collision en route to the wounded deputies’ request for assistance.
In a brief few minutes, Deputy Mike Waters lay in St. Francis Hospital with a gunshot wound to his face. Deputy George Arthur was next to him, with half of his skull viciously beaten in. Moments later, Sergeant Kopperud was rushed into the same intensive care unit, fighting for his life. This is the radio traffic that night dealing with that incident…....The piece lasts slightly over nine (9) minutes. For those of us who worked FPK, it is a "hair-raising" piece of memorabilia.
From: BILL BERNSEN FPK 72-76
401, Luther Smith and Bill Neumann were the first unit to arrive at the Arthur and Waters 998 at Florence and Central. They scooped up the two wounded deputies and sped to St. Francis Hospital 80-90 MPH, you can hear over the radio 401 advise they were S/B Central Ave. to E/B Imperial Hwy and to block traffic at Alameda because they were not going to stop. 401 saved 2 deputies that night.
From RON MOYA:......
In the transmission you hear 11 boy also transporting an injured deputy with head injuries. That was 10 Sam, Al Kopperud who was responding and tc'd with a fire truck. He sustained major head injuries and facial damage and was subsequently retired, the fire truck was also totaled in
the t/c. Al's wife is still on the dept., and is now a captain.
Read more on that night ----->
From: WILLIAM NEUMANN FPK 72-77
I was Luther Smith's partner the night of the Arthur/Waters shooting and the voice of 401 (DB Night Car) when we rolled George and Mike to St. Francis hospital.
Luther and I were rolling to assist George and Mike, W/B on Florence Ave, and saw Sgt. Al Kopperud slam into the fire truck at Hooper Ave. approx. 70-80 yards ahead of us. The impact of the crash caused Al's unit to bounce into the air and it appeared through the back window that there was more than one person in the vehicle, apparently from items in the car flying around inside. With the fire dept. obviously at the scene to assist Sgt. Kopperud, Luther Smith pulled around the back of the fire truck and we continued w/b to the bank parking lot to assist George and Mike.
Upon our arrival, two of the three suspects lay dead from gunshot wounds, administered by Mike Waters who was able to recover from a gunshot wound between the eyes. Mike had drawn his weapon and shot the suspect who was standing over him, pulling the trigger on his own gun, (which misfired) in an attempt to "finish off" Mike, who he thought was already out of it because of the initial wound. Mike somehow drew his weapon and shot this suspect dead and then concentrated on the other remaining suspect who was beating George Arthur in the head with a gun of his own. Mike leaned across the unmarked, gang vehicle and shot the other suspect, saving George's life. The third suspect had fled the location moments prior to our arrival.
Luther and I evaluated the situation and made the decision to roll Mike and George to St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood. We also made a decision to leave the observer who was riding with us, at the location, armed with a shotgun. This was someone we knew well and at the time felt that he could defend himself adequately. Other units were responding and were a minute or less from arriving at the location. Responding units were advised that the observer was at the location and was armed with the shotgun. Imagine the liability of a similar situation today!
The incident is still vivid in my mind and one I will never forget.
This incident inspired the training film titled "The Will to Survive". It's a little rough as it's about 30 years old. Its about 15 minutes long, but worth watching if you have the time. Listen to the radio traffic first, then double click "Play Video"
This is a large file & may take a monent to load..
To play click "Arrow". To watch full screen, right click on the screen, click zoom, click full screen.