Dunn and Taylor parked their unmarked units on the north curb of Ninth Street just outside the south entrance of the post office located on the northeast corner of Ninth Street and Main Street. They didn’t see either of the cars the suspects were reported to have been driving so they decided to enter the lobby of the post office and see if the female suspect had already left.
In his haste to get to the post office, Detective Dunn had left his suit coat at his desk so, in an effort to not telegraph that he was a police officer, he left his extra ammo, handcuffs and holster under the seat of his unit and put his 5-shot revolver into his rear pocket.
The Second Suspect Appears
As they were climbing the stairs on the Ninth Street side of the post office a male subject came out of the door.
“I felt he was the right guy but I’d only seen a picture of him and there was still that doubt,” Detective Dunn said.
A post office employee was approaching the door at the same time and Dunn asked him who the man was. The employee told Detective Dunn and Sergeant Taylor the man had been inside the post office looking for his wife. Sergeant Taylor told Dunn to stop the man, who by now had descended the steps and was walking east on Ninth Street, and question him while he went inside to contact the woman.
Detective Dunn quickly moved down the steps and from a distance of about thirty feet, told the man to stop.
“He was nearing the sidewalk that goes down the ramp to the back parking lot when I yelled at him to stop,” Detective Dunn reported.
The suspect said, "You won't shoot me!"
The man replied that he wasn’t who they were looking for and continued to walk away. Dunn drew his weapon and pointed it at the man, identified himself as a police officer and ordered the man to halt. The man was fumbling with his hands at his front waistband when he looked over his left shoulder and said, “You won’t shoot me.”
Motor Officer Dave Braly, 25, arrived to assist Detective Dunn.
“I had heard the call on Jerry’s radio when we were in the pit and he had already told me about the FBI’s robbery suspect’s at the post office so I decided to go back him up,” Braly said.
Motor Officer Braly parked his motorcycle on the north curb of Ninth about 30 feet east of the driveway at the rear of the post office. He was concealed from Becker by a 4’ hedge along the sidewalk but heard Dunn ordering Becker to stop.
Detective Dunn said the man quickly ducked behind a hedge then immediately came up shooting. Dunn returned fire at Becker almost simultaneously with Becker’s shots.
Detective Dunn is Shot
Braly saw Becker shoot Dunn and saw Dunn fall to the ground. Becker then approached Dunn.
I pulled the trigger one time. He went down.
“I was about twenty feet away and I had my six-inch .38 out and pointed at Becker,” Braly recalled. “I saw his head in my sights and I thought to myself, That’s too small. Lower down a little. I pulled the trigger one time. He went down.”
Officer Billy Carpenter (back to camera), Motor Officer Dave Braly (at Carpenter's left) and Officer Gary Lezotte (far right) at the southeast corner of the downtown Post Office.
Second Suspect Arrested
Sergeant Taylor had determined that the female suspect had gone to the loading dock area at the rear of the post office. As he exited the door onto Ninth Street he heard several shots being fired and saw Detective Dunn go down and Officer Braly in a crouch pointing his gun at a man on the ground who was the same man he had seen earlier exiting the post office.
Officer Billy Carpenter, who happened to be just a block away when the shooting started, heard the shots and arrived on his trike moments after the shooting stopped. He determined that Detective Dunn had been shot in the left thigh and was bleeding profusely. He applied direct pressure to the wound and femoral artery to slow the bleeding.
After quickly stopping to assess Detective’s Dunn’s condition, Sergeant Taylor went to the rear loading dock and found the female suspect, Julie McDonnell, in an office attempting to retrieve a package. He entered the office and told McDonnell she was under arrest. As he was escorting her out, uncuffed, she began to resist and made several attempts to put her hand into her purse. Officer Karl Hutchinson arrived to assist with her arrest and removed the purse from her arm and placed her in handcuffs.
A subsequent search of the purse revealed she was carrying a chrome-plated .25 caliber Browning semi-auto pistol with pearl handles that was fully loaded with a round in the chamber and the safety off.
Both Dunn and Becker were transported to the hospital (in the same Howard Ambulance). Officer Carpenter also rode in the ambulance to maintain direct pressure on Dunn’s thigh wound. Becker was dead on arrival and Dunn was rushed to surgery. Due to the his significant loss of blood, doctor’s gave Dunn only a 50/50 chance of survival.
After a week in the hospital and several weeks recuperation, Detective Dunn was released to return to work, a testament to his will to survive.
Over fifty years after the incident Officer Braly says he still thinks about it a lot.
“I run it through my mind quite often, unfortunately,” Braly said. “But I did everything I was trained to do. I had just qualified a few hours earlier and everything came back to me just as I had been trained.
The nearness of Braly’s shooting incident to his firearms training was not the only coincidence that day. Officer Carpenter had just finished first aid training that day as well. Both officers were in the right place at the right time and were able to thwart Becker’s deadly intent and save Detective Dunn’s life.
The Department didn’t offer any counseling at the time and Braly said he was debriefed by Captain Woody Cordery after the incident then returned to his regular duties.
As is all too often the case, the news media botched the story and reported on the air that Officer Braly had been shot in the incident. During a worrisome interval of time spent trying to locate his wife and mother who had gone to Palm Springs for the day, Braley was able to confirm with them that he hadn’t been shot.
When Becker and McDonnell’s residence was searched a .30 caliber M1 carbine equipped to fire in full auto and a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun were recovered as well as a walkie-talkie, numerous benzedrine tablets, face disguises, gas masks and several boxes of ammo.
Officers also seized Phoenix, Arizona area maps with markings indicating banks and possible escape routes.
Seized from their vehicle were 118 $20 travelers checks and 50 $10 travelers checks stolen during the Wilsonville, Oregon bank robbery.
During the autopsy of Robert Becker performed by Dr. Rene Modglin, it was determined that Becker had been struck by two rounds. One round from Detective Dunn’s firearm entered Becker’s right shoulder in an almost straight on orientation and lodged in his back. The round fired by Officer Braly entered Becker’s body under his left armpit traveling left to right and perforated his left lung and aorta. This wound caused Becker’s death.
On January 7, 1968, seven inmates at the Riverside County Jail escaped from custody by crawling through a ventilation duct and then sawing through a security window onto the roof of the courthouse. Among the escapees was Donald Myrick, Becker and McDonnell’s accomplice in the Wilsonville, Oregon bank robbery.
On January 12, 1968, Myrick and two other Riverside County Jail escapee’s robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Woodside, San Mateo County, CA taking $28,899. Myrick’s accomplices were step-brothers Steven Aires and Terry Smith, who had been jailed on October 4, 1967 for robbing SIC Finance at 6192 Magnolia in Riverside of $17,000.
Myrick was captured in a post office in Denver, Colorado on January 21, 1968. Steven Aires was arrested on Monterey, CA. Terry Smith was arrested in Albuqueque, New Mexico. All seven jail escapees were eventually recaptured.
In January 1968 Chief of Police L.T. “Curley” Kinkead presented Jerry Dunn and Dave Braly the Commendation for Exceptional Merit, the Department’s highest award at the time. Fred Taylor and Billy Carpenter each received the Commendation for Excellent Police Duty.
Jerry Dunn was promoted to sergeant about a year after this incident and worked until 1980 when he medically retired.
Officer Braly returned to work as a Motor Officer until he was injured in a motorcycle accident years later in the line of duty. He continued to work for the police department in an administrative assignment until he medically retired in 1993.
Chief of Police Sergio Diaz recognized Dave Braly and Jerry Dunn would have been candidates for the Medal of Valor at the time this incident happened, but for the fact that the Medal of Valor did not exist within the Riverside Police Department at that time. Braly and Dunn were awarded the the Medal of Valor in a ceremony in Riverside on April 1, 2015.
Chief of Police Sergio Diaz presents the Medal of Valor to retired Motor Officer Dave Braly and Retired Sergeant Jerry Dunn on April 1, 2015.
Officer George Boyd Assisted at scene
Officer Billy Carpenter Administered first aid to Detective Dunn
Officer Leonard Christiansen Assisted at scene
Detective A. J. DeWindt Case Agent/attended autopsy
Officer Ron DeLaby Assisted at scene
Detective Bobby Dickerson Co-Case Agent
Officer Kent Fogelman Assisted at scene
Sergeant Al Fogerty Assisted at scene and transport of S-McDonnell
Sergeant Harry Homsher Assisted at scene/attended autopsy
Officer Karl Hutchinson Assisted at scene and transport of S-McDonnell
Officer Gary Lezotte Assisted at scene
Officer Gary Nissen Assisted at scene
Officer Dan Nuckolls Assisted at scene/assisted Carpenter
Sergeant Fred Taylor Arrived with Detective Dunn/arrest of S-McDonnell