In Memory of Our Fallen

The year was 1914 and Marshal Ernest A. Gieseke had been in command of the Tracy Police Department for the past three years. During this time, several Deputy Marshals had come and gone. Two of the Deputies appointed during Marshal Gieseke’s tenure were Frank Blondin and Benjamin Franklin Ingram. Deputy Ingram was hired on January 7, 1914, and Deputy Blondin’s first day on the job was June 3, 1914. Both Deputies were authorized to receive a salary of $40 per month.

A Small Salary For Bravery

At the June 3rd, 1915, Board of Trustees meeting, the subject of the small salary which Deputy Marshals were receiving was discussed. The Board was reminded that in order for the Deputies to meet their expenses, they were obliged to accept “subscriptions” from business owners for law enforcement services. Although the Board was aware of and authorized this practice, it wasn’t something they felt should continue. After a lengthy discussion, a motion was passed to increase the salaries of the Deputy Marshals to be fixed at $90 per month and the practice of accepting “subscriptions” be discontinued.

Tragedy Strikes

Just a few days later, tragedy struck the Tracy Police Department during the night of June 20, 1915, when Deputy Marshals Ingram and Blondin were ambushed and killed while searching for a person wanted by the Angels Camp Police Department.

Several drunken men were inside the Italian Hotel when the Deputy Marshals arrived. As the Officers were speaking with the hotel owner, the drunken men left the hotel through the front door. The Officers then exited the hotel through the back door, and as they stepped around the side of the hotel, a shot was fired at the Officers. Both Officers returned fire, at which time more than a dozen shots were exchanged.

35-year-old Deputy Marshal Frank Blondin was mortally wounded by two shots in the back and fell unconscious in his tracks. Deputy Marshal Ingram sustained a through-and-through bullet wound to the abdomen and was also shot in the leg. Although severely wounded, the Officer was able to return fire, striking one of the assailants, 30-year-old Jose Alverez, in the leg.

After the shooting, a man working in his yard next to the hotel was the first to arrive on the scene. Shortly thereafter, a dairyman arrived and immediately summoned a doctor. A short time later, the wounded Officer was loaded onto a train to Stockton for treatment; however, not before giving a description of the suspect. Unfortunately, before the train reached Stockton, 35-year-old Deputy Marshal Benjamin Ingram perished from his wounds.

Jose Alverez was charged with homicide and later convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison.

On October 19, 1915, the Industrial Accident Commission reported their findings in the matter of the State Insurance Fund vs. Margaret M. Ingram and Daniel C. Ingram, arising out of the death of their son, Ben. The late Deputy’s parents were awarded $1,170.