Ralph Maple Killed by Drunken Fred Watts
Young Police Officer Shot While Making Arrest
Reprinted from the Colton Daily Courier
September 17, 1916
Officer Ralph Maple was fatally wounded yesterday afternoon by Fred Watts of this city while the later was resisting arrest. Maple lived but one hour and twenty minutes after the fatal shot had been fired.
Fred Watts, a man of three score years, is a well-known resident of Colton. Until one week ago he was an employee of the Glove Mills, but lost work because of drunkenness. He was discovered hanging out at the mill at 10 o’clock this morning with a .32 automatic revolver by H.B.Day of Santa Fe and police officers were immediately notified. Officer J.C. Button went down to the mill in answer to the call and told Watts to go home and put the gun away. Watts told him he didn’t know that it was unlawful to carry a gun if it was not concealed and started in the direction of home. He was then under the influence of liquor.
About 1:30 in the afternoon a call came from the Globe Mills and was taken by Pete Bruback, fireman. Watts was still at the mill and an officer was wanted to come down and take his gun away. Ralph Maple answered the summons. Taking his star off and putting it in his pocket and fastening his gun within easy reach, he started out I Street toward the mill. Seeing Watts sneaking behind the Colton Poultry Supply house, Maple evidently followed him to the house of a sister, Mrs. Harry Tredennick on West G Street where the shooting took place.
A few minutes later, neighbors heard five distinct shots in rapid succession. The first word of the trouble to reach the police station was brought by two high school boys in an automobile. John Adamson and Tom Thompson rushed to the Trennedick residence and found Ed Thompson, who drives an ice wagon, taking the gun away from Watts in the front yard. The latter’s left arm was badly wounded at the elbow.
A steam of blood marked Watts’ course from the front of the house to the back and lying across the half opened cellar door was Officer Ralph Maple with a bullet wound in the lower left leg, another in the upper right leg and a third in the abdomen just below the ribs. Knopsnyder’s ambulance was immediately called and Maple was rushed to the Ramona Hospital, while Watts was taken to the county hospital where he now is.
Mrs. Maple and their two-year-old baby hurried to her husband’s bedside, reaching it just a second before he died, an hour and twenty minutes after the shooting. Today was the fourth anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Maple’s wedding, a sad ending of a happy married life.
Chief of Police George Maple of this city, father of the unfortunate officer, and Mrs. Maple, left for Los Angeles last Friday night by automobile for San Francisco. Wires have been kept busy to reach them at some stage of their journey, finally reaching him at Paso Robles at 8 o’clock last night. He is on his way back and expects to reach here this morning.
A brother of the deceased, L.G. Maple, is on his way here from Gallup, New Mexico, and the paternal grandmother in Los Angeles has also been notified. Mrs. Maple and her baby girl are at the home of Mr. Maple’s sister, Mrs. Wilson, on Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Watts is a widower. He has a son, George Watts, in this city.
The inquest will be held Monday at the Knopsnyder Chapel. No arrangements have been made for the funeral services.