Leslie Paul "Les" Schellbach
End of Watch - December 12, 1971
Three armed suspects, two of whom were escapees from the Utah State Prison, entered the East Avenue Market and ordered the store owner and a customer into a walk-in refrigerator at the rear of the store. The owner slipped out an auxiliary door and called the police. The suspects then fled the store in a vehicle. An off-duty officer was called and responded to the robbery in his private vehicle without a police radio. As he responded, he saw the suspect vehicle traveling southbound on Highway 65 from 5th Street.The suspects in the vehicle were wearing masks.
He followed the vehicle as it turned westbound on Moore Road. The suspects spotted him and sped up. The suspects were driving too fast and crashed their car on a sharp turn (just west of what is now Delancy Way). The officer exited his car with his off duty revolver and identified himself as a police officer. He ordered the suspects to surrender, but he was immediately shot in the face, chest, arms and left side by a shotgun blast. He returned fire, but he realized he was outgunned. The suspects fired multiple rounds at him as he took cover behind his car. Seriously wounded, he ran to a nearby farmhouse to make an emergency phone call to the Lincoln Police Department dispatch.
Officer Leslie Schellbach responded to the shooting call on Moore Road. When he arrived at the scene he was fatally shot in the chest with a semi-automatic M-16 rifle, rupturing his aorta. The suspects fled the scene in the other officer's private vehicle.
On December 16th, 1971, law enforcement officers arrested the three suspects at an apartment in Sacramento. The suspects were charged with murder, attempted murder, assault against a police officer, armed robbery, auto theft, and conspiracy. In 1972, two of the suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in state prison. The other suspect committed suicide in his jail cell during the murder trial.
Officer Schellbach was survived by his wife and two young children.
We will never forget the sacrifice he made while protecting our city.