(LA)SAUGUS, Cal., Apr. 6--SCENE WHERE HIGHWAY PATROLMEN WERE SHOT--
This early morning view shows the scene near here where four California Highway
Patrolmen were shot and killed in a gun battle with two suspects they were going to
question about complaints the men were shooting and threatening other people in the
restaurant (background) with their guns. (AP Wirephoto).

Editor's note: one of the suspects had actually brandished a gun at another motorist after
sideswiping the motorist's car on Highway 99 earlier that evening. See the story below.
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They called it the "Newhall Incident." It was the worst massacre of police officers in the
80 year history of the California Highway Patrol, and possibly the worst in American
history. It changed police procedure forever thereafter— improved police training on how
to approach a suspect, better weaponry, bullet proof vests — saving the lives of many
police officers in the line of duty. It was the story of the bravery and sacrifice of four
young CHP officers, and the story of a true American hero, a civilian bystander who
risked his life under fire from gun toting suspects to try to save the life of a downed
patrolman.On the evening of April 5, 1970, four CHP officers, Roger Gore, Walt Frago,
James "Skip" Pence, and George Alleyn were brutally gunned down by two dangerous
suspects in the lot of a Standard Service Station next to J's Coffee Shop on what is now
the intersection of the Old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia, California.

The two suspects were down and out career ex-convicts. They had met and became friends
while in prison. Jack Twining had just been released from the Federal Penitentiary in
Tallahassee, Florida eleven months previously. At age 34, he had been in and out of eight
federal prisons for various offenses since the age of 16. Bobby Augustus Davis had been
released from prison 8 months previous and was serving his parole time in Houston,
Texas. Both had tried and failed to land legitimate jobs after leaving prison. They met
again in Houston and rode out to California to turn back to the "dark side" and score a
big hit. After staying for a while in Sacramento and failing to pull off an intended bank
robbery, they rode down to Los Angeles in a red Pontiac. As they drove south on
Highway 99 between Gorman and Newhall, they noticed lots of construction along the
highway and figured they could come back to steal explosives from the construction sites
when they were ready to pull a robbery. In the car with them was a veritable armory of
guns.

After renting an apartment in Long Beach, the suspects encountered an armored truck
delivering cash to the Santa Anita Racetrack. They tracked the truck on its usual route
and decided on a plan to rob the truck on a freeway ramp. But to accomplish their
diabolical plan, they needed explosives. Late in the evening of April 5, 1970, they returned
to the construction site between Newhall and Gorman on the northbound Golden State
Freeway with the intent of procuring the explosives. Twining left the car to search for
explosives. Davis stayed in the car and parked on the side of the road behind a family
stranded with an overheating radiator. With the family eying him suspiciously, Davis got
nervous and made a quick U-turn on to the southbound side of the highway...

Ivory Jack Tidwell and his wife Pamela were traveling southbound on Highway 99 when
they were almost sideswiped by Davis in the Pontiac as he made his U-turn. They took
down the license plate number of the car. Tidwell was quite angry and pulled up alongside
the Pontiac to tell the driver off. But Davis reacted by pointing a two-inch revolver at the
Tidwells. Tidwell sped away and pulled off the highway further down the road to call the
police and report the violent encounter.

The four young officers were relatively new to the CHP, having graduated from the police
academy less than two years before the incident. Partners Roger Gore and Walt Frago
spotted the Pontiac, now occupied by both suspects, as it headed south through the
Newhall area. They followed the Pontiac as it pulled off on to Henry Mayo Drive (now
Magic Mountain Parkway). James Spence and George Alleyn, driving in their patrol car
northbound at Lyons Avenue, picked up the radio call from Gore and Frago and prepared
to back them up. The suspects turned north on to what is now the Old Road and pulled
into the driveway of a Standard Gas Station located next to J's Coffee Shop on the
current site of Marie Callendar's Restaurant. J's had just opened it's business in 1969 or
1970. Prior to J's, there had been a Tip's Restaurant on this location (James Dean
possibly stopped and ate there as he headed to his fatal accident outside Cholame in 1955).

The CHP officers flashed the red lights of their patrol vehicle as Gore got out to
apprehend the suspects. While Gore patted down Davis, Frago covered him with a
shotgun. Suddenly Twining got out of the car and fatally shot Frago with two bullets from
a .357 magnum. The horror had begun. Distracted by the gunfire from the passenger,
Gore could not react in time as Davis shot him with a Smith and Wesson revolver.

"Newhall, 78-12! 11-99! Shots fired. J's Restaurant parking lot." Pence sent this desperate
dispatch message as he and Alleyn pulled into the gas station driveway and saw their two
comrades lying on the pavement. A gun battle ensued between the suspects crouched
behind the Pontiac and the two officers. Despite their best efforts, both Pence and Alleyn
were shot and killed during the battle with the suspects, Pence at close range in an
execution style slaying.

Throughout history many tragedies have been accompanied by great heroism. The
Newhall Incident was no exception. Gary Dean Kness was driving by J's Coffee shop on
his way to work when he saw the gun battle taking place at the Standard station. As he
saw one of the wounded officers fall to the ground, Kness raced out of his car to the
officer's side, and tried to pull him out of the line of fire. While helping the officer, Kness
saw one of the suspects approaching him with a sawed-off shotgun. He instinctively picked
up the officer's shotgun and attempted to fire at the suspect, but the gun was empty. He
then picked up a revolver and was able to fire off a shot at the suspect, who took off and
ran wounded from the gunshot. Kness was honored by the CHP for his heroic efforts to
save the officer, both on June 5, 1970 at a Memorial Wall dedication at the Highway
Patrol office on the Old Road, and in April, 2008 when a portion of Interstate 5 was
named for the four downed officers.

Never before had so many officers been killed in one incident. In the aftermath of the
shooting, the two suspects took off in opposite directions by foot. Davis headed up San
Francisquito Canyon Road where he was apprehended by police officers. He was
eventually convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was changed to life in prison
when the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. He remains in prison to
this day. Twining ended up barricaded in the home of Steven and Betty Jean Hoag on
Pico Canyon Road near the Old Road, where he shot himself to death when the house was
surrounded by the police. He had previously sworn that he would never return to prison.
The Newhall Incident left in it's wake four young widows and nine fatherless children.
Sympathy poured in from a stunned community as over 5000 letters were sent to CHP
headquarters with nearly $100, 000 in donations for the families. But Gore, Frago, Pence,
and Alleyn did not die in vain. As a result of their sacrifice, police procedures were re-
examined and changed, making the jobs of police officers across the country much safer
to this day. Many more lives of police officers may have been lost if not for the tragic loss
of life on the worst day in the history of the CHP.
Newhall Incident
April 5, 1970
click to enlarge above picture