Patrolman Gerald F. (Jerry) Griffin, 29, was killed on Tuesday, November 6, 1979, when an enraged man fired several shots at policemen responding to a domestic disturbance call at 4702 W. 36th Street in Eagledale shortly before 8:00 pm.
Officer Griffin was the first policeman to arrive at the scene. Investigators said he entered a screened carport at the residence and was confronted by Richard Moore who pointed a shotgun at him. Griffin was heard to say, "You don't want to do that." Moore answered with a blast that fatally wounded Griffin. Moore continued on a shooting spree that also injured Lt. Cicero C. Mukes and Patrolman Roy Potter.
Dozens of officers responded to the scene. As police surrounded the home, Detective Robert S. Patterson pulled a police car in front of the house to shield the fallen Mukes. Sergeant Thomas Robbins brought his squad car up, pulled Mukes into the car, and then drove the car between Potter and the house and pulled Potter inside. He drove both of them to Wishard Hospital where they later recovered from their injuries. Officer Amos E. Atwood pulled Officer Griffin away from the carport, and several other officers took his body to the street.
Moore barricaded himself inside the home for approximately 1-1/2 hours. SWAT teams from IPD and the Indiana State Police moved in on the home with tear gas and high-powered weapons. A hostage negotiator tried to establish communication. Eventually, after several tear gas canisters were fired into the home, Moore surrendered.
When police entered the home, they found that Moore had slain two hostages. The victims were identified as Ronda Caldwell Moore, Moore's former wife; and her father, John Caldwell Sr. Caldwell's wife, Burdine, was also found wounded; she was transported to Methodist Hospital. Later investigation found that the home was the residence of John and Burdine and that their daughter, Ronda, had recently come to live with them after a divorce from Moore.
Although Moore was known by co-workers to be a friendly, outgoing man who did not seem prone to violence, he admitted to having a heavy drinking problem. He is believed to have gone deliberately to the Caldwell home while armed with a loaded automatic shotgun and a hunting rifle. Moore was charged with three counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and three counts of armed confinement.
Pleading guilty, Moore was sentenced to death in 1980, but the conviction and sentence were vacated in 1985 by a special judge. That ruling was overturned on appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, which reinstated Moore's conviction in 1997 and ordered a new sentence hearing. The five-day hearing in 2000 concluded with a second sentence to death. Additional appeals were filed; Moore remained on death row. He died of cancer at age 75 on December 23, 2006.
Officer Griffin was killed four days before his 30th birthday and three days before he was to go on vacation. A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Officer Griffin had worked for the Police Department for about 7 1/2 years before he was killed. Officer Griffin was known as a quiet, easygoing man who always was willing to help. A fellow officer remarked, "You don't find them any better. He was a good cop and a fine man." Prior to his service with IPD, Officer Griffin served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
Officer Griffin was married to his wife, Judith, for about nine years. He was the father of three girls - Kathleen, 7; Kelly, 4; and Kimberly, 19 months.
Hundreds of other law enforcement officers paid tribute to Officer Griffin. About 700 people crowded into Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church for the one-hour Mass. An estimated 200 more people, many of whom were police officers from across the state and out of state, stood outside in the cold drizzle.
After the Mass, the funeral cortege of almost 300 cars, half of which were police cars with red lights flashing, headed downtown in a procession that stretched 24 blocks long. Uniformed police not in the procession lined the curb on Alabama Street. They were ordered to attention and snapped to a salute as the gray hearse paused in front of police headquarters. The entourage then passed the Marion County Sheriff's Headquarters where 100 sheriff deputies waited in similar fashion. The hearse then proceeded to Calvary Cemetery where Officer Griffin was buried.
Officer Griffin's badge, number 2602, was permanently retired from service.
Source: The Indianapolis Star, November 7 - 10, 1979; April 25, 1997; January 14, 2000; January 22, 2003; February 18, 2005. Indiana Public Defender Council, No Longer on Indiana's Death Row (internet document at www.in.gov/ipdc/general/dpinfo.html).