Walter Eugene McAdams

Obituary: Police officer survived '68 downtown shootout

Published: Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013 - 2:00 am | Page 5B
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013 - 8:27 am

Walter Eugene McAdams, a veteran Sacramento police officer who in 1968 was critically wounded in a wild midday shootout downtown with two brothers, died March 2 at 85.

He was in failing health and had gallstone complications, his family said.

Mr. McAdams spent 33 years with the Sacramento Police Department, mostly in the traffic division. He was on patrol in 1968 when a merchant hailed him and his partner to report two men suspected of forging checks on K Street.

The officers caught up with the suspects in a five-level parking garage at Eighth and J streets. One suspect, Roger Lockridge, began shooting and hit Mr. McAdams once in the upper chest. Mr. McAdams returned fire and emptied his revolver before slumping to the ground.

His partner, Officer Carl Dixon, ran toward the shooting and came upon Lawrence Lockridge. They exchanged gunfire as Lawrence Lockridge ran to the roof level, where he took a woman hostage in her compact car. He began driving until more officers arrived and fired at the car, emptying their guns but missing the occupants.

Lockridge stopped the car and surrendered. Meanwhile, other officers arrested his brother at the scene.

Thirty to 35 shots were fired in the garage, hitting many vehicles and shattering windshields. Swarms of officers rushed to the shootout, which erupted at noon and attracted throngs of downtown office workers and shoppers.

Mr. McAdams was hospitalized for a bullet that pierced high on the left side of his chest and nicked his lung. He was honored by the Kiwanis Club for risking his life in performance of his duties.

Following complications that required additional surgery, he returned to duty after several months and worked until he retired in 1981.

"A lot of people thought that he would go on disability and he would retire," said his wife, Sue. "But he said there was never a better job in the world than the one he had. He loved being a policeman."

Born in 1927 and raised in Sacramento, Mr. McAdams was the son of a fire captain. He graduated from McClatchy High School in 1945 and served in the Army after World War II. He married in 1950 and had three children.

After retiring, he was active in the Northern California Peace Officers Association and served as president in 2003-04. He also traveled widely in the United States, Europe and New Zealand with his wife.

The Lockridge brothers – who were wanted for other crimes in Los Angeles and Santa Clara – were sentenced in Sacramento to terms of up to life in prison on 13 charges, including attempted murder of police officers. Roger Lockridge was paroled in 1973.

"Because of cases like the Lockridges, the Legislature passed the determinant sentence law," which sets minimum prison terms for crimes, said Joseph E. Taylor, a McGeorge School of Law professor who prosecuted the case in 1969. "The Lockridges were the last vestiges of inequity in parole releases."

Walter E. McAdams

Born: June 11, 1927

Died: March 2, 2013

Survived by: Wife, Sue, of Sacramento; children, Robert of Napa, Jacqueline Heil of El Dorado Hills and Christine of Boise, Idaho; four grandchildren

Services: Private Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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