Retired Seattle Police Officers Association
By: Officer Mike Severance – North Precinct
On September 23, 1976 around 10:20 p.m., King County Police responded to a shots fired call at 12935 1st Ave. SW. Residents said several shots had been fired into the house by Gary M. Horton, 17, who then sped away in a car. A 12 year-old boy inside the house sustained a minor head wound. Horton had previously lived at the house as a foster child, and his girlfriend was at the house at the time of the shooting. Horton was upset with his girlfriend for some reason.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m., Officer Dorian Halvorson, 30, and his partner, Officer Fred Still, were flagged down by two frantic women in the White Center area. One of the women was Horton’s girlfriend. The other woman was her mother. They told the officers about the shots incident being investigated by the King County Police. The girlfriend told the officers she believed Horton had her 16 year-old sister with him at a nearby house. She was afraid for her sister’s safety.
Officers Halvorson and Still went to the house at 9211 17 Ave. SW. They were joined by other Seattle officers and a King County officer. Horton was inside a basement apartment. The entrance to the apartment was in the backyard and at the bottom of a stairwell. As the officers approached the stairwell, the door opened and the 16 year-old sister and Horton came out. Horton immediately went back inside and closed the door. Officer Halvorson rushed to the bottom of the stairwell, grabbed the girl, and pushed her up the stairs to Officer Still and safety. Halvorson pushed the door open, and Horton started shooting with a 9-shot .22 caliber revolver. Officer Halvorson returned fire. One of Horton’s shots struck Halvorson in the head, and he fell to the floor. Other officers fired at Horton, and he retreated to the kitchen. Moments later, a single gunshot was heard from inside the apartment. Horton was found dead on the kitchen floor.
Officer Halvorson was rushed to Harborview Medical Center. He died at 5:00 a.m. on September 24, 1976. Horton had been shot several times by officers, including a fatal wound to the heart. He also had a fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a suicide. After the incident, it was learned that Horton had threatened to shoot it out with the police.
Officer Dorian Halvorson was survived by his wife, Judy, and his parents, Ray and Lucinda Halvorson. His funeral was held on September 28, 1976 at Westminister Presbyterian Church. Dorian is buried at Floral Hills Cemetery.
Dorian Lee Halvorson was born on March 2, 1946 in Tacoma. He grew up in Edmonds, and graduated from Edmonds High School, Class of 1964. Dorian enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1964. He married his wife, Judy, in 1966 in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. He was commissioned as a Seattlepolice officer on November 12, 1968. Dorian loved power boating and salmon fishing. He worked part time as a boat salesman at a brokerage. He was a great cop, admired and respected by all who knew him. At the time of his death, Dorian and Judy resided in Edmonds.
In May 1998, Officer Dorian L. Halvorson was one of forty Seattle police officers, killed between 1881 and 1976, who were posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. Three of those officers had living widows, including Officer Halvorson. Unfortunately, the Department never contacted those widows before or after the awards ceremony. Judy spent thirteen years never knowing her husband had been awarded this state’s highest law enforcement honor. In the summer of 2011, Judy sent a letter to the Chief of Police asking how she could obtain Dorian’s medal. Today, Judy is still waiting for a reply. Judy told me that Dorian’s parents were both alive in 1998, and they would have been so honored if they had been able to attend the presentation ceremony. They have both since passed away. Officer Dorian Halvorson’s Medal of Honor is still in the custody of the Seattle Police Department.