Honor Roll

Floyd H. “Bernie” Swartz

Reprinted from the San Francisco Examiner

Officers of the 14-person Pinole Police Department are preparing for the funeral Wednesday of 10-year veteran Floyd “Bernie” Swartz, killed Saturday during the capture of a suspect in the stabbing death of a young woman.

“There is a dismal feeling around her,” said Pinole detective Peter Janke. “We’re glad we caught the suspect but we lost a fine man, a good cop.

“I can’t convey to you how we felt about this guy.”

“He was a very easy person to work with,” said secretary Katherine Evans, who among other employees of the small department, was at work yesterday. “Everyone liked Bernie.”

Swartz, 33, was shot in the throat with a sawed-off rifle Saturday morning as he and a partner attempted to coax the suspect, James Richard Odle, from a hiding spot in dense weeds behind a residential area.

Five hours later, Odle surrendered after a hunt by scores of East Bay police officers flushed him out of the hilly area.

Odle, 31, was booked in the deaths of Swartz and the earlier murder of Rena Aguilar, 19, who police said was abducted from her home by two men late Wednesday night.

A man authorities described as a second suspect in the Aguilar murder, Odle’s nephew, Bryan Keith Odle, 19, turned himself into police Saturday afternoon. Police said both men lived in San Pablo.

The department announced the funeral for Swartz would be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at 837 Tennent Ave. in Pinole, with a noon burial at Rolling Hills Cemetery.

The officer leaves two children – a daughter from a previous marriage, a 2-year-old son – and a wife who is four months pregnant.

City officials have established a fund for the family, the Floyd “Bernie” Schwartz Fund, at the Mechanic’s Bank, 795 Fernandez Ave. in Pinole.

Pinole police had been looking for James Odle since early Thursday morning, after the Aguilar woman was attacked and killed in a quiet section of this North Bay community. The motive for that slaying has not been determined.

Shortly afterward, Janke said, police spotted a stolen van reported at the scene of the Aguilar attack, chased it westward into San Pablo where two suspects abandoned the vehicle and fled.

Subsequently, authorities received a tip that James Odle – who Janke said was well known to local police as “super bad” – was driving a stolen pickup truck. Pinole police spotted the vehicle Saturday morning, and Swartz was among those who staked out the house where it was parked.

Police even disconnected the spark plug wires so it could not start, but Janke said that while they maneuvered about the house, Odle jumped in the truck and rolled it more than a half mile down a hill to Delores Court, a street near where Aguilar had been slain.

Janke said that Odle hid in the bushes, while Swartz and Pinole Officer Donald Donahue approached. “They could see he had a gun. They were trying to talk him out,” Janke said.

“Odle was telling them (the officers) what a bad hiding spot he had picked, when suddenly he fired.”

In the hunt that followed, heavily armed police teams exchanged about 50 shots with Odle, hidden in the thick brush alongside Pinole Creek.

A nearby section containing about 100 homes was cordoned off, attracting scores of spectators who cheered when the burly red-haired suspect was driven off in a police car. Police said Odle had been wounded in the left arm. He had been released on parole last October from Solano County, where he had served time for armed robbery, auto theft and use of a firearm.

Pinole Police Chief Vincent Jimno said Odle offered no resistance when cornered.

Swartz honored

A fugitive shot and fatally wounded Pinole Police Officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz, 33, a tall, amiable Vietnam War veteran whose quiet competence had earned him a remarkable reputation the last 10 years.

Last month, Pinole city offices, businesses and some schools were closed so that about a thousand persons, including an estimated 500 uniformed police colleagues including an estimated 500 uniformed police colleagues from California cities, could pay their last respects.

Officers from as far away as Reno, Sacramento and Culver City stood at attention as the services got underway at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Four mounted police officers from the San Francisco police equestrian unit stood at parade rest outside the church throughout the 40-minute service.

Swartz’s five-month pregnant wife, Kim, led a large group of family members, and brought with her the couple’s 19-month-old son, Robert, as well as the slain officer’s 9-year-old daughter by a previous marriage.

In an emotional eulogy, Pinole Police Chief Vince Jimno said he found 25 letters of commendation in Swartz’s personnel file which cited the officer’s “compassionate and professional performance throughout the community in which he assisted every facet of the community.”

Jimno said Swartz had received an early honorable discharge from the Air Force so he could pursue his goal of becoming a full-time police officer.

Following the service, a cortege of several hundred police cars accompanied the funeral process to Rolling Hills Cemetery in Richmond, for a military burial with a 21-gun salute. A community luncheon was to take place later at St. Joseph’s auditorium.

The Richmond branch of the Wilson and Kartzer Mortuary donated the bronze casket and all expenses connected with services.

Swartz is survived also by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Swartz, sisters, Ida Louise Cantrell and Gladys Ann Buchenau, all of San Pablo, and a grandmother, Lona Gibson of Elizabeth, West Virginia.

Tributes in honor of Officer Floyd H. “Bernie” Swartz

  • Emotions.

    I met Bernie, Contra Costa junior college, San Pablo. Studying, learning electricity. He was so bright,smart, Top of the class, I’m so glad he befriended me. We were a great team. Kim was so wonderful. I miss both of them so much. Ken