Retired Seattle Police Officers Association

By: Officer Mike Severance – North Precinct

During the evening hours of September 14, 1928, three young men in a stolen automobile parked on University Way near the Jamieson Drug Company at 4759 University Way. Two of the men entered the drug store while the third remained outside. Inside the store, two of the armed suspects were robbing the clerk and customers. Outside the store, Seattle Officer Emery R. Sherard, 30, was walking his beat and approaching the drug store. The third suspect, acting as lookout, ran into the store and warned his accomplices. All three ran out of the store. Officer Sherard saw them, guns in their hands, and attempted to stop them as they jumped into their car. Officer Sherard fired at the suspects. The suspects fired back and sped off. One bullet struck Officer Sherard in the neck. He was first taken to Norwegian Hospital at 3515 Woodland Park Ave. He was then taken to City Hospital which was located inside the old Public Safety Building at 400 Yesler. Officer Emery Sherard died about four hours after he was shot. His wife was at his bedside. He was survived by his widow, Frances, and three children, Dorothy, James, and Ted. As they have always done, Seattle’s citizens turned out in droves to pay their respects during Officer Sherard’s funeral on 9-18-1928. Officer Sherard is buried at Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The stolen getaway car was found at 7th Ave. and Bell St. with a bullet hole in it. The three suspects who murdered Officer Sherard had been on a robbery spree. After shooting the officer, they committed several more robberies in Seattle. It was later discovered they had committed almost thirty robberies in less than one month. Thanks to the father of one of the suspects, who turned in his son, all three suspects were identified. They were Knute Lindberg, 22, Leo Burns, 20, and James McCourt, 22. Lindburg and Burns were arrested early in the investigation. One of the officers who arrested Lindberg was Officer Ted Ahner, the brother of Officer Ralph Ahner who was killed in the line of duty on 9-9-1932. James McCourt was on the run for four months. He was captured in Butte, Montana in January 1929. He was extradited to Seattle. The trio’s intended target in the University District that fateful night had not been the drug store. They had planned to rob the Egyptian Theatre. When they drove by the theatre in their stolen car, a Seattle police officer was standing in front, talking to the cashier.
There were two trials. Lindberg and Burns were convicted of murder and several robberies. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and many years for each count of robbery. On 5-19-1929, McCourt was convicted of murder and several robberies. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder plus many years for each count of robbery. The Washington State Supreme Court cut 100 years off McCourt’s sentence. This meant little since he still had to serve life plus at least 15 years. McCourt successfully escaped from the Walla Walla Penitentiary once. He enjoyed freedom for all of one hour. He made at least one other unsuccessful escape attempt. There are no records indicating any of the three were paroled. There are no definitive death records for any of them. There was a Leo Burns who died in Walla Walla County in 1929. James McCourt’s prison photo is shown above.
Emery Ray Sherard was born in LaGrange, Wyoming on December 2, 1887. In 1900, the family was living in Idaho and involved in farming. In 1916, Emery owned 80 acres in Gardena. One of Emery’s best friends was Will Kuckku. Will and his wife, Frances, lived in Emmett. After WW I started, Emery and Will went off to war together. Emery served in the 101st Field Artillery, 26th Division in Europe for 18 months. At least part of his service in Europe was as a “horseshoer”. His friend, Will Kuckku, was killed in action in Europe. When Emery was discharged, he returned to Idaho, and went to visit Frances, the widow of his friend. Their friendship gradually turned into love. Emery and Frances were married in Payette, Idaho on 11-4-1919. They moved to Seattle in 1920, and lived at 4023 Fremont Ave. while Emery worked as a mechanic. Emery Sherard was commissioned as a Seattle police officer on 11-2-1926. At the time of his death, the family lived at 2223 W. Barrett.
In census records, his marriage license, his signed WW I draft registration, and Seattle directories, Emery Sherard’s first name is spelled with an “e” and not an “o”. The name on his tombstone is ‘EMERY RAY SHERARD”. The date of death on his tombstone is September 14, 1928. It was only after his death that local newspapers started spelling his first name as Emory.
Frances Sherard died in Seattle in 1954. Dorothy and James Sherard both lived out of state, and have both passed away. Ted Sherard, Emery’s youngest child, lived most of his life in Seattle. His name and phone number were in the 1997 Seattle phone book, and again in 1998, the year his father’s Medal of Honor was presented to some unknown member of the SPD Brass. Ted and his wife still live in the Seattle area. Ted’s daughter, Emery’s granddaughter, lives on Bainbridge Island.
In May 1998, Officer Emery R. Sherard was among forty Seattle police officers, killed between 1881 and 1976, who were posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. No family members were present at the ceremony. His medal has been in the custody of the Seattle Police Department since 1998. The Department has the contact information for Officer Sherard’s son, but, as of 5-1-13, the Department has not contacted him.