Sergeant William Herkal – End of Watch May 11, 1959

Gone but not forgotten

Sergeant William Herkal

End of Watch : May 11, 1959

Minneapolis Police Department


Minneapolis Police Department

Died May, 11, 1959

Sgt. Herkal was working the middle shift at the Minnehaha precinct (Sixth) on Monday night. It was a routine night. He left the station at 19:00 hours and walked to 27th and East Lake to catch a bus to Chicago and Lake where he was going to meet a beat officer. When he got to East Lake and 27th Avenue he met Patrolmen Stanley Tornes and Jake Lindgren riding in their squad car. One of the officers stated, “We got a stick up, come on, let’s go.”

Other officers had already arrived at the store and were inside. Officers Witt and Madson, and Officers Leonard and Mell observed the suspect Gowdy and he at this time pulled a pistol from his right hand pocket. Gowdy was ordered to drop the gun several times. He refused and said, “You will have to kill me first.” Officer Witt tried to knock the gun from his hand and Officer Leonard struck him across the head with his pistol. Gowdy jerked free and turned around and fired at officers once or twice. Officers returned fire and he fired again. He fell near.

Officers Tornes and Lindgren along with Sgt. Herkal arrived at the scene just as Gowdy was running from the store. Gowdy shot Sgt. Herkal down at almost point blank range as he ran past him. Gowdy was felled by shots fired by other officers and fell face down approximately 20 feet past Sgt. Herkal.

Officers called for an ambulance and when they arrived they pronounced Sgt. Herkal D.O.A.

Sgt. Herkal joined the police force in 1948 after having been in the Navy for four years. According to Sgt. Herkal’s mother he always wanted to be a policeman even when he was a little boy.
How Could Anybody Shoot Bill?

Sgt. William Herkal Jr., 35, Minneapolis Officer, killed by a gunman’s bullets Monday night, was to attend a piano recital by his 12-year-old daughter, Judy, later in the evening at St. Helena Catholic School. He loved music according to Kenneth C. Beach, director of the Minneapolis Police Band. Herkal was a first trumpeter with the marching unit. Herkal inspired Judy to study music, a priest at St. Helena’s said.

How could anybody shoot a man like Bill, Mrs. Herkal asked. He was so young and so good. Herkal was a member of the Fire and Police American Legion Post 396, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minneapolis Police Federation, and St. Helena’s church.

Services were held on Thursday, Mary 14th, 1959 at the church of St. Helena. Reviewal was held at McDevitt Hauge chapel. Burial was held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Sgt. Herkal was survived by his wife Marie; two sons: Steven 8 and Charles 7; two daughters: Judy 12 and Susan 2; his mother Mrs. Russell Sharp; and two sisters: Mrs. Mary Knapp and Mrs. Faye Rondick, both of Minneapolis.