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 Lee N. Bunch, Policeman

Lee N. Bunch

Sunday, March 8, 1942

Bunch, Lee N.

Rank: Policeman

Serial Number: 277

Division: Auto Theft

Location: 1819 Redondo Beach Blvd. (Gardena)

Date Killed: Sunday, March 8, 1942

Cause of Death: Shot by a Robbery Suspect

Bio: Policeman Bunch was shot and killed by a
robbery suspect.

Because of World War II, tires were rationed and cars were being
stolen and stripped of their tires and abandoned. The Detective
Inspector thought that these thieves would have a lot of money and
might go to Gardena to gamble; draw poker being legal there.
Policeman Bunch was working undercover in a poker club because he
was a good poker player and probably knew more car thieves and car
prowlers than anyone in the department.

Shortly after midnight three holdup men entered the club armed with
a semiautomatic 12 gauge shotgun and revolvers.They lined up the
fourteen customers and employees with their faces against the wall
and as one suspect covered them with the shotgun the other two
suspects started to search the victims.

Policeman Bunch was the fifth person in line from where the search
was started. He carried his .38 in a shoulder holster. Probably
knowing that he would be identified as a police officer, Policeman
Bunch drew his gun, whirled and fired at the man holding the
shotgun, hitting him in the belly and knocking him back on his
haunches. As he hit the floor, he fired two shots from the shotgun.
The first went high, but the second struck Policeman Bunch in the
head, killing him instantly. The bandits fled to their getaway car.
They drove around for awhile and knew the injured suspect had to
have medical attention. They finally dumped him out in a hospital
driveway. The injured robber died the next day, but before he did,
he implicated the others.

The other two robbers plead guilty and were sentenced to die. The
driver, who had been unarmed, was given a life sentence. Later, the
death sentences were changed to life sentences, on the grounds that
their attorney caused them to plead guilty with the belief that
they would receive life sentences.

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