Clarence G. Snorden
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Officer Clarence G. Snorden - Died June 26, 1951

Clarence G. Snorden

Officer Clarence G. Snorden, 29, was killed on the night of June 26, 1951, after he and his partner, Officer Thomas H. Williams, 39, were sent to the home of John Hoard as a result of Hoard telephoning police headquarters to report that "I just killed a man." As Hoard waited for officers to arrive, he took a shotgun and stood behind a window overlooking the street and turned out the lights in the front room of the house.

When Officers Snorden and Williams arrived at the house at 227 West 14th Street, they parked their car in the rear.  As Officer Snorden walked around to the front, Hoard fired one shot from a front window at a distance of 6 feet.  Officer Snorden fell, fatally wounded. Williams ran to the front, and Hoard, who had reloaded, fired again, striking Williams. Williams survived, but lost his right eye as a result of his injuries.

Sgt. Clinton Auter, Sgt. James Gaughan, and Sergeant Bethel Gaither reached the home a moment after Officer Snorden and Williams were shot. Hoard, still standing by the front window fired one shot at them when they climbed from their car.  The officers returned fire, killing Hoard with a shotgun blast to the chest. 

As the firing stopped, officers saw a man leap from the roof of the Hoard home.  They radioed for more police.  Sixty policemen with riot guns, tear gas equipment, and machine guns were ordered into the area.  A crowd estimated at 5000 gathered in the neighborhood, blocking traffic for six blocks.  The fleeing man soon surrendered, and was identified as Mrs. Hoard's brother who had been hiding upstairs during the shooting.  He was held so he could make a statement, but was not believed to have been involved in the shooting.

Hoard's wife, Mary, later told police Hoard had been drinking heavily and that they had been arguing throughout the evening.  She also reported her husband said, "I'm going to call some policemen so they'll kill me."

At the 3 p.m. roll call in police headquarters on June 27, Captain John E. Ambul warned patrolmen to use extreme caution on assignments involving possible gunplay.  "Snorden and Williams were here yesterday at this same roll call," he said.  "Snorden probably was the biggest man in this room.  Today he's dead."

Born in Keysburg, Kentucky, Officer Snorden was graduated from Crispus Attucks High School. He served in Africa and Italy during World War II and was discharged as a staff sergeant in 1945. He had joined the police force in June 1948, one month after his marriage.

Officer Snorden was interred under heavy skies at Crown Hill Cemetery, while more than 60 police officers paid last respects along with more than 100 relatives and other friends.  The funeral procession was nearly a half mile long and passed by police headquarters on South Alabama Street where hundreds of city policemen, state troopers, deputy sheriffs, constables, railroad detectives, and bystanders came to attention and saluted as the hearse passed.  The Reverend Andrew J. Brown, pastor of the Greater Street John Baptist Church, officiated at Officer Snorden's funeral.

Officer Snorden was survived by his wife, Harriett, and a 22-month-old son.  His wife was expecting their second child at the time of his death.


Source:  The Indianapolis Star, June 27, 28 and 30, 1951