Herkal was working the middle shift at the Minnehaha precinct (Sixth)
on Monday night. It was a routine night. He left the station at 19:00
hours and walked to 27th and East Lake to catch a bus to Chicago and
Lake where he was going to meet a beat officer. When he got to East
Lake and 27th Avenue he met Patrolmen Stanley Tornes and Jake Lindgren
riding in their squad car. One of the officers stated, “We got a stick
up, come on, let’s go.”
Other officers had already arrived at the store
and were inside. Officers Witt and Madson, and Officers Leonard and
Mell observed the suspect Gowdy and he at this time pulled a pistol
from his right hand pocket. Gowdy was ordered to drop the gun several
times. He refused and said, “You will have to kill me first.” Officer
Witt tried to knock the gun from his hand and Officer Leonard struck
him across the head with his pistol. Gowdy jerked free and turned
around and fired at officers once or twice. Officers returned fire and
he fired again. He fell near.
Officers Tornes and
Lindgren along with Sgt. Herkal arrived at the scene just as Gowdy was
running from the store. Gowdy shot Sgt. Herkal down at almost point
blank range as he ran past him. Gowdy was felled by shots fired by
other officers and fell face down approximately 20 feet past Sgt.
Officers called for an ambulance and when they arrived they pronounced Sgt. Herkal D.O.A.
Herkal joined the police force in 1948 after having been in the Navy
for four years. According to Sgt. Herkal’s mother he always wanted to
be a policeman even when he was a little boy.
How Could Anybody Shoot Bill?
William Herkal Jr., 35, Minneapolis Officer, killed by a gunman’s
bullets Monday night, was to attend a piano recital by his 12-year-old
daughter, Judy, later in the evening at St. Helena Catholic School. He
loved music according to Kenneth C. Beach, director of the Minneapolis
Police Band. Herkal was a first trumpeter with the marching unit.
Herkal inspired Judy to study music, a priest at St. Helena’s said.
could anybody shoot a man like Bill, Mrs. Herkal asked. He was so young
and so good. Herkal was a member of the Fire and Police American Legion
Post 396, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minneapolis
Police Federation, and St. Helena’s church.
were held on Thursday, Mary 14th, 1959 at the church of St. Helena.
Reviewal was held at McDevitt Hauge chapel. Burial was held at Fort
Snelling National Cemetery. Sgt. Herkal was survived by his wife Marie;
two sons: Steven 8 and Charles 7; two daughters: Judy 12 and Susan 2;
his mother Mrs. Russell Sharp; and two sisters: Mrs. Mary Knapp and
Mrs. Faye Rondick, both of Minneapolis.