Officer Art Koch, 34, a five-year veteran of the Fairfield Police Department just promoted to sergeant, was finishing his last shift as a patrol officer when a rifle shot from a bitter, legless Vietnam veteran ended his life on July 29, 1984. He died of massive internal injuries.
Koch was answering a disturbance call at the home of Stan Veketis on July 28, when soon after he got out of his car, he was shot. Verketis has been charged with first-degree murder.
The wounded officer lay by his car for more than 20 minutes before paramedics and firefighters were able to rescue him. Firefighters shot a stream of water at Verketis’ home while a paramedic scrambled out of a medical truck, dragged Koch into the vehicle, and sped away.
Nearly 1,000 Northern California law enforcement officers joined hundreds of family and friends as tribute was paid to the slain officer.
“He was the kind of man that would try to break dance with is son, would take his daughter swimming and throw her in the air,” said Fairfield Police Chief Charles Huchel in his eulogy. “He was the kind of man who wrote his mother a warning ticket on her birthday. In the remark section he wrote: ‘In violation of being the best mother in the world. Happy birthday.’ ”
“He was the kind of man who liked to be where the action was, in the thick of things,” Huchel said. “He gave his life protecting citizens so they may go on being husbands, fathers, daughters, sons, friends.”
A motorcade of more than 300 law enforcement vehicles and 150 motorcycles flanked the hearse as it made its way slowly from the church to the Fairfield Civic Center, where more people gathered to pay their respects to Koch.
Huchel said that Koch, who had served as a highway patrolman in San Francisco and Oakland for five years, came to the Fairfield Police Department in 1979 and recently completed in a promotional exam to become a sergeant.
“He was selected for the honor and it was a very high point in his life,” said Huchel. “He’d worked very hard to be promoted, and he was very excited for the future. This was his last tour of duty . . . the last shift he was to work as a patrol officer.” He was to begin work Friday as a sergeant, after a camping vacation. He died the morning he planned to go camping with his family.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., he came to California 14 years ago and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1972 after reaching the rank of sergeant as a radar technician.
Fairfield Mayor Gary Falati, addressing Koch’s widow, Barbara, and his three children, ages 10, 6, and 3, said “. . . we are indebted to you for the great sacrifice of your loved one.
“May the memory . . . of Art Koch be with us forever.”
Koch is also survived by parents, William and Gladys Koch; brothers, Russell and Donald Koch; sisters, Judith Ann Brockman and Pamela McGee; and grandparents, Eva B. Hoechuli, Lesle Evans, and Catherine Engers.