OFFICER ROBERT R. ALLSHAW – EOW: 11-11-1968
By: Officer Mike Severance #2866
Around 8:00 p.m. on November 11, 1968, two masked men with handguns entered the Pinehurst IGA store at 11552 15 Ave. NE. A citizen standing across the street saw them. He called the Seattle Police. After entering the store, one suspect herded several customers and a clerk into a back room. The other suspect forced another clerk to empty the cash drawers. That suspect also took the clerk’s wallet. In all, about $1,100 was taken.
Officer Robert Allshaw, 36, was one of several SPD officers who responded to the robbery in progress call. Bob was a motorcycle officer. His partner was J.J. Hill. Because of the weather that night, they were both working alone in unmarked traffic cars. Bob was the first officer to arrive at the scene.
Robert E. Graff had arrived in the IGA parking lot moments before Officer Allshaw. He saw the officer rush a little girl away from the front door at the northwest corner of the store. Officer Allshaw then stepped inside. Mr. Graff saw the two masked men walking towards the front of the store. He saw the officer back up against a wall by the front door. Mr. Graff later testified, “I don’t know how he got him handcuffed as fast as he did.” As the suspects got to the front door, Officer Allshaw grabbed one, disarmed him, handcuffed him, and dragged him out the front door so quickly that the witness was amazed. The handcuffed suspect was between the officer and the second suspect. All three ended up outside the front door on the north side of the building. Words were exchanged, and shots were fired. Neither the officer nor his prisoner were hit, but Bob’s shots hit the suspect who crouched and started to back away to the west towards 15th Ave. NE and the front of the store.
By this time, many more officers had arrived, and were at the south and west sides of the store. One of them was Officer Gerry LaBorde. The other officers heard the shots and moved towards the north side of the building. Officer LaBorde, armed with a shotgun, saw a man with a gun who was bent over and moving backwards emerge from behind the northwest corner of the building. He ordered the man to drop his weapon. The suspect turned and ran. At that moment the second suspect came into view at the corner. Officer Allshaw was behind him and holding the handcuffed prisoner with one hand. His other arm, revolver in hand, was extended in front of the prisoner. Officer LaBorde saw the suspect and an extended arm holding a gun. He never saw Bob Allshaw. Officer LaBorde raised his shotgun and fired. Bob’s prisoner saw what was coming, and ducked. Bob took the full force of the shotgun blast. Officer Allshaw was rushed to Northwest Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Bob’s funeral on November 14, 1968 at the Mittelstadt Chapel was probably the largest ever seen in Ballard. He was buried at Washelli.
When Bob Allshaw was killed, he was not wearing a uniform hat or helmet. The same was the case when Officer James Brizendine was killed by a homeowner on 7-21-55. Bob’s death is the reason I was seldom seen outside my patrol car without my eight-point uniform hat. He was killed a little more than nine months after I joined SPD.
The suspect Bob had disarmed and handcuffed was William F. Ogle, 50, a habitual criminal. He had been convicted of an armed robbery at the State Liquor Store, 6208 Roosevelt Way NE, and sentenced to prison. He filed an appeal of that conviction. Eight days before Bob’s death, he had been released from jail on an appeal bond. Ogle had been paroled in 1967 after serving eight years of a life sentence for an armed robbery at a Ballard tavern. Ogle had been imprisoned at age 18 for Auto Theft, and again at age 23 for Robbery.
The second suspect had been shot in the abdomen by Officer Allshaw. He was Elmer N. O’Neil, 43. He had been captured almost immediately, and taken to Northwest Hospital in critical condition. He survived. A third suspect, thought to be a getaway driver, was arrested but never charged.
Ogle and O’Neil were both convicted of robbery and first-degree assault. Both were sentenced to a prison term of up to life with a recommended minimum of 20 years. Ogle was also sentenced to 20 years for the liquor store robbery. His two prison sentences were to be served consecutively. Ogle died at the Walla Walla Penitentiary in 1985.
Robert Rowland Allshaw was born in Seattle on July 31, 1932. He attended Lincoln High School and the University of Washington. He served in the United States Marine Corps and fought in the Korean War. On September 3, 1954, he married Suzanne Padgett. He was commissioned as a Seattle Police Officer on March 27, 1959. He was a police academy classmate of my uncle, Vic Heins. Bob and Suzanne had two children, a daughter, Terry Lee, and a son, Daniel. At the time of his death, the family lived at 7026 22 Ave. NW.
Bob was constantly working on some home project, although Suzanne says he knew little about such things, and often got into hilarious predicaments. Typically, on Suzanne’s birthday, he would buy her 500 used bricks and leave them in a truck parked on the sidewalk in front of their house. As he left for work, he would urge her to unload the bricks before the truck got a ticket. An hour before his death, Bob got up from the dinner table, gently patted Daniel on his behind while telling him to be a good boy, and walked out the door of his home for the last time.
In May 1998, Officer Robert Allshaw was one of forty Seattle Police Officers, killed in the line of duty between 1881 and 1977, who were posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. A sworn member of SPD, Roger Dixon, had been tasked with locating the surviving families of our Fallen, and he had from 1995 to 1998 to do it. He managed to locate four surviving families who attended the 1998 presentation ceremony. After 1998, the Department made no effort to locate surviving families of the other thirty-six officers. Although she had been receiving a monthly pension check for almost 30 years, the Department never contacted Bob’s widow, Suzanne, to inform her of the award or invite her to the presentation ceremony. According to a May 2011 Guild newspaper article, the three-year search involved hundreds of hours of research into genealogical, library, pension office, and government records. Suzanne was one of four living widows of those Medal of Honor recipients who were never contacted by the Department before or after the 1998 ceremony. Two of those widows died in 2010, never knowing their husbands had been awarded the Medal of Honor. Suzanne’s contact information and the contact information for the other three widows had been available in the Police Pension Office since their husbands’ deaths which occurred between 1954 and 1977. That’s where I got Suzanne’s phone number. While talking to Suzanne in February 2011, I first learned she did not know her husband had been awarded this state’s highest law enforcement honor. This inexcusable act of disrespect was immediately made known to the SPD Deputy Chief of Operations who, along with the SPD Honor Guard Commander, was in charge of Medal of Honor issues. The conversation with Suzanne led to the discovery that almost three dozen Medals of Honor had gathered dust at SPD since 1998. One year after talking to Suzanne, she still did not have Bob’s medal. On March 19, 2012, almost 14 years after it was awarded, Suzanne Allshaw finally received Bob’s Medal of Honor. She did not receive it because of any efforts by Seattle PD. She received it because of the personal efforts and commitment of Assistant Chief Mike Sanford. While on Department business in San Diego, he took the time to present the medal to Suzanne at her home in Indio, CA.
On November 8, 2013, nearly three years after I discovered the debacle, I was assigned to the Medal of Honor Project, and tasked with righting a terrible injustice. Three months later, on January 30, 2014, a Medal of Honor Ceremony was held at the Criminal Justice Training Commission facility in Burien. Surviving families for all of Seattle’s Fallen killed between 1881 and 1977 had been located. At the ceremony, most of the surviving families finally received our Fallen Officers’ medals more than fifteen years after they had been awarded. The programs for that ceremony were printed by Boruck Printing which, at the time, occupied the building that was the Pinehurst IGA in 1968. Another ten medals were mailed to surviving families who could not attend that ceremony. Five of those medals were presented to the families by uniformed officers from out-of-state agencies. When I contacted the Chiefs of those agencies, they responded without hesitation that they would be honored to perform that duty. Four other medals were presented by uniformed SPD officer(s) to surviving families in their home cities, one in Salt Lake City, UT; one in Cannon Beach, OR; and two in Sequim, WA. All the 1998 Medals of Honor were finally in the rightful hands of our Fallen Officers’ families, families living not only in Washington, but in New York, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana, Utah, Hawaii, Oregon, and California.
On January 20, 2017, at the invitation of Indio Chief of Police Michael Washburn, I flew to Palm Springs, CA, and attended a ceremony at the home of Suzanne Allshaw. I presented Suzanne with a 12” x 18” sign bearing Bob Allshaw’s name and End of Watch date. The sign had been manufactured by the City of Seattle Sign Shop. I had used it at community presentations throughout Seattle while promoting the Historical Sign Project. Its goal was to install 12” x 18” historical markers at or near the sites where Seattle’s fifty-seven Fallen Officers had been killed in the line of duty. Seattle’s elected officials refused to allow that project to become a reality.
Suzanne Allshaw passed away in 2019.