During the early morning hours
of February 4, 1940, gunfire from ambush brought about the death of
Riverside Police Officer Edward A. Bertino, and critically wounded his
partner, Officer Homer Stricklin.
The suspect, Alfred Guerrero,
had an extensive record with the police. During an argument with
his mother on the evening of February 3rd, Guerrero told his mother
that he would shoot the police if she were to call them. It was
later reported that he had been drinking alcohol during much of the
day. Guerrero's mother called the police from a neighbor's home,
warning them that her son had a gun.
Officers Stricklin and Bertino
drove to the residence in response to the mother's call. Arriving at the house, both officers exited their patrol car and
approached the front of the house. Seeing a shadow in the bushes
near the front of the house, Officer Bertino called on Guerrero to
throw down his gun and step out of the bushes.
Instead, Guerrero opened fire,
his first bullet fatally wounding Bertino in the stomach. The
wounded officer attempted to return fire, but was unable to obtain a
clear view of his assailant, while the officers were plainly outlined
by the light from a nearby kitchen window.
The next bullet struck Officer
Stricklin in the right hand, knocking his pistol from his grip and
paralyzing his right arm. Bertino attempted to take cover behind
their patrol car, however, the next shot fatally wounded him in the
head. Stricklin managed to get back to their patrol car where he
called for help.
When additional officers arrived
at the scene, Deputy Chief Roy Thomas kicked in a window and made
entry into the house. However, Guerrero had already fled. Later in the morning, officers located Guerrero at the home of Felix
Breceda, where he again fled on foot. Guerrero was taken into
custody by Riverside County Deputy Sheriffs Perez M. Hayden and Archie
Veldenas when he fled the city over the Mission Blvd bridge, the murder
weapon still in his possession.
Traffic Officer Bertino had been
a member of the Riverside Police Department since 1920. He was
appointed in May of that year and as a traffic officer in October.
He lived at 3463 Walnut Street
with his wife, Willma Bertino, and their three children, Kenneth,
Marylin, and Billy. He was the son of Mary and William Bertino,
of Santa Monica.