On January 18, 1961 Gale Gene Eldridge, 32, was shot and killed during an armed robbery.
Officer Eldridge was a uniformed officer on duty when he stopped a car for a traffic violation at approximately 7:45 in the evening. The driver told Officer Eldridge that he was on his way to a party on the “Reservation.” The “Reservation” was a residential area located in the 200 block of South Indian.
Officer Eldridge allowed the driver to leave the scene and was alerted a short time later that this person was involved in a robbery in Banning. Eldridge called for a backup to meet with him in the “Reservation.” Officer Quincy Welch responded to that request. Officer Eldridge drove down one street while Officer Welch came in a separate direction. Officer Welch overheard on the radio that Eldridge had stopped the suspect and was out of the car investigating. A short time later Officer Welch heard two gunshots. When Officer Welch arrived on the scene, he found Eldridge face down in his police car.
Officer Eldridge had been shot in the stomach. His gun was at his feet and had not been fired. Upon further investigation, the suspect was found in his car and he had been shot in the head. Two shots had been fired from the driver’s gun.
It is speculation that Officer Eldridge had a brief struggle with this suspect. The driver apparently shot Eldridge in the stomach. Eldridge was able to use the suspect’s own gun to shoot him in the head. Both Eldridge and the suspect died at the scene.
Gale was 32-years-old when he died. He was a father of three children, Gale, 13; Donna, 11; and Bobby, 5.