Martin Ganz knew the dangers of the profession, yet he decided as a teen-ager that he had to be a police officer. Family members worried for him but celebrated the way he achieved his goal.
During funeral services, they mourned the death of the lifelong Garden Grove resident gunned down while working as a Manhattan Beach police officer.
“He just had so many dreams and he accomplished them, and the family was very proud of him,” said Janet Chase, of Las Vegas, one of Ganz’s sisters. “We also were scared because it’s a dangerous world and (police work) is a dangerous profession to pick. But that is what he wanted, so the family supported him.”
Ganz was killed Dec. 27, 1993 when an ordinary traffic stop turned deadly.
As his teen-aged nephew watched from the passenger seat of his patrol car, a driver Ganz had stopped opened fire. Ganz, who worked with youths teaching drug awareness, was 29.
Garden Grove officer Rick Wagner, who attended Garden Grove High School with Ganz, said that becoming a police officer had been Ganz’s ambition. Ganz had been an Explorer Scout and served as a reserve officer in Garden Grove, Buena Park and Santa Ana before he was hired by the Manhattan Beach Police Department in 1989.
The killing had reopened wounds at the Garden Grove Police Department, still recovering from the death last March of officer Howard Dallies, Jr., 36, also during a traffic stop.
Friends and relatives remember Ganz as a family-oriented man who recently bought the home that he and his five sisters grew up in, so it would stay in the family. Relatives say he planned to propose to his girlfriend of six months on Valentine’s Day.
“He was a sensitive guy. He cared about everyone, said his sister, Mary Plaff.
Ganz joined the Manhattan Beach Police Department as a community-service officer teaching seatbelt safety to children. He helped create a Woody Woodpecker coloring book used throughout the state, said his roommate, Fred Winters.
A stream of friends, associates and sympathizers turned the sight of the shooting into an impromptu shrine with wreaths, bouquets and condolence cards.
Ganz, who was single, taught anti-drug abuse education programs in the city’s elementary schools, served on the special weapons team and normally worked as a motorcycle officer.
“He probably arrested more guys than anyone else in the department,” said officer Gregg McMullin. “You name it. He arrested everybody. He was not only able to make a lot of arrests, but he worked well with kids as a DARE officer,” McMullin said. “There are plenty of kids in the community that know him.”
As a DARE instructor, he had come to be highly regarded by not only the students, but teachers in the local schools as well. He was very well-liked, he was a friend to all. Everyone in the department is taking it very hard.”
Donations may be made to Martin Ganz Memorial Fund, do the Manhattan Beach Police Officers Association, American Savings Bank, 201 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.
The convicted murderer of Ganz was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Torrance.