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Commemorated: Three Utah police officers killed on duty

Published January 30, 2014 9:55 pm

Ceremony • History Project plaques commemorate their service and sacrifice.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City police officer William Cooke was working alone at the jail when he was held up at gunpoint on a fall day in 1858.

Two men demanded he release one of the inmates. When Cooke refused, one of the men shot him to death.

Cooke, the first Utah police officer ever to be murdered on duty, was honored along with two other fallen officers Thursday with bagpipes and a commemorative plaque at 135 E. 100 South, across the street from where he was shot.

Cooke, Sgt. Alanzo Wilson and Sgt. Thomas W. Stroud were the latest of 24 Salt Lake City officers to be memorialized by the Salt Lake City Police History Project.

All three died more than 60 years ago and have no known descendants in the area, said Lt. Mike Ross. So the family of another fallen officer decided to sponsor the memorials.

Mike and Jody Farley, of Holladay, attended a ceremony in May 2012 in honor of his grandfather, Sgt. Owen Farley, who was gunned down by a robbery suspect in 1951.

"Someone sponsored his plaque, who was a stranger to me," Farley said. "I thought, this needs to be paid forward."

Ross said the plaques, on the wall of Harmon's at City Creek, help the city pay a debt of memory to the officers who died.

"We forget their names, we forget their faces, and we forget the sacrifices they made to the city," he said.

Cooke, 55, died five days after he was shot, Ross said. He was survived by his wife and six children. His suspected killer fled Salt Lake City but was shot and killed near Fort Bridger, Wyo. by a Salt Lake City mail carrier who knew of the murder.

Sgt. Alanzo M. Wilson, 54, was shot accidentally in 1894 while he was working as a desk sergeant in the police station. A new recruit dropped a loaded gun, which went off, striking Wilson.

Wilson had six children when he died; his wife gave birth to his seventh child the day after he died.

Sgt. Thomas W. Stroud, 34, also was killed in an accidental shooting. On Jan. 5, 1951, his gun fell from his waistband and hit the sidewalk. It discharged, firing a bullet into Stroud's heart. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

ealberty@sltrib.com