In the early morning hours of April 29, 1855, Officer John Sheldon was ambushed while walking his beat in the downtown area of Sonora. Two subjects approached him from behind and fatally stabbed him in the side. The suspects took Officer Sheldon’s pistol before fleeing the scene. Severely injured, Officer Sheldon made his way to the United States Hotel where he collapsed. He was able to give his account of the incident to the innkeeper before he passed away. The assailants were identified as two Chilean’s named Banacio Escobar and Jose Sebada. At the time of their arrest they were in possession of Officer Sheldon’s pistol and Sebada was sharpening a large knife believed to be the murder weapon.
In 1951 Officer Sheldon was involved in ‘quieting a riot in a cantina’ during which a Chilean named Breol was shot and killed. It is believed the murder of Sheldon was in retaliation to this incident. Escobar and Sebada were tried, found guilty of first degree murder, and executed by hanging with approximately 4,000 people in attendance.