Sheriff’s Sergeant Donald Hodges, 39, was shot and killed while pursuing a purse snatch suspect who fled from the Sandpiper, a Benton Park cocktail lounge in southwest Bakersfield.
A member of the Sheriff’s department 18 years, but on medical leave since the previous summer when he underwent back surgery, Hodges was found sprawled on the pavement in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex. He was pronounced dead on arrival to Kern General Hospital.
From the events pieced together by police, Hodges had been on an all-day boating and water skiing outing with a group of friends and after a late dinner had gone into the cocktail lounge. One member of Hodges party went to the restroom and observed a man searching through a women’s purse which appeared to be one belonging to a woman in Hodges’ group.
The purse thief suspect fled from the restroom, dropping the purse in the bar lounge as he ran outside. Hodges and another member in his party, Robert Owens, set off in pursuit as the suspect headed in the direction of the apartment complex that Hodges would later be found in.
During the chase, Hodges and Owens separated, hoping to close in on the suspect from two sides. Owens said minutes later he heard a series of shots, five or six, and went back to find Hodges on the pavement in the apartment parking lot.