Alva Mead Jackson

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Alva Mead Jackson

Birthplace: Boulder, Boulder County, Colorado, United States
Death: April 01, 1955 (38)
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Pasco, Franklin County, Washington, United States (Gunshot, died in the line of duty - time of death, 6:48 p.m.)
Place of Burial: Pasco, Franklin County, Washington, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Alva Jackson and Alice Elnora Jackson
Husband of Private
Father of Judith Rae Marshall and Rosalie Angel
Brother of Private

Occupation: Police Officer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Alva Mead Jackson

Reproduced with permission of the author:

Killing of Pasco police officer cast ‘dark cloud’ over city 60 years ago

  • By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City Herald
  • March 28, 2015

Richard “Dick” Petersen raced through the streets of Pasco and darted into a narrow alley, where he hid with a .22-caliber revolver by his side.

The 16-year-old had just used a .30-caliber rifle to open fire on his father and grandfather in a drunken rage. The men laid bleeding near their trailer homes on East Lewis Street.

As sirens blared and cops converged on the area, Pasco patrolman Alva Jackson rounded a corner and came face-to-face with the baby-faced teen.

Jackson, known for his aptitude in connecting with troubled youth, kept his pistol holstered and stared down the barrel of the loaded revolver pointed at his head. Petersen wasted no time unloading on Jackson as the officer came toward him.

Bullets tore into Jackson’s face and chest, yet the determined lawman reached Petersen, stripping the teen of the gun and a switchblade. A Franklin County deputy sheriff helped subdue Petersen as he thrashed about.

Blood flowed down the right side of Jackson’s face as he collapsed to the ground. He was rushed into surgery at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pasco. Police from as far away as Yakima rushed bottles of A-positive blood to the hospital.

Through an oxygen mask on a stretcher Jackson whispered, “Lord Jesus, help me. Let me breathe.”

A little less than two hours after the shooting, Jackson, 38, died, as reported in the Columbia Basin News at the time. It was 6:48 p.m. on April 1, 1955.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of Jackson’s death — the only Pasco officer to die in the line of duty in the department’s 105-year history. A memorial service is planned Wednesday at City View Cemetery, where Jackson’s casket was draped with an American flag and buried.

A plaque bearing his picture hangs outside the police department.

His widow, Clara, stayed in Pasco and raised their daughters Judy and Rosalie, who were 12 and 8 when their father died. Clara eventually married another Pasco cop, Okie Miles.

Rosalie told the Herald the family continues to remember Jackson as a hero — he was a military policeman in World War II in addition to his civilian law enforcement service. They have shared the story of his death with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Obviously it changed our lives a great deal, but the people in Pasco were like any small-town community in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They held us together. Neighbors looked out for each other,” she said. “Mom was real good about keeping his memory alive.”

Jackson’s death rocked the growing city of Pasco and rattled the small department where officers earned $11.33 daily. Cops were on edge as they patrolled the streets. The community searched for answers.

Even more troubling to folks was the teen killer who appeared to show little remorse. Petersen was quoted by newspaper reporters as shouting, “I wish I would have had a rifle” as he was arrested.

‘Dark cloud’ over the city

Petersen was known around town for chugging vodka and cutting class at Pasco High School. He had a collection of guns and had been busted by the cops for minor offenses, including shoplifting and vandalism.

The shooting painted Petersen as a much darker character, with the Columbia Basin News referring to him as a “booze-crazed” killer who terrorized the town during the 30-minute shooting spree.

Petersen was heavy-set for his age, didn't play sports and tended to keep to himself. His mother told police he was embarrassed by his size and weight, 218 pounds, and it caused him shy away from others.

One thing Petersen did enjoy, as he told a parole officer in 1955, was driving around in the car his father had given him and drinking beer. He and another boy skipped school the day of the shooting to drink beer and wine.

The night of the shooting, Petersen’s mother, Opal, told a newspaper reporter: “That damn booze. He is a good boy when sober, but recently he has been coming home after school drunk. When drinking ... he gets crazy. He can’t hold it.”

When Petersen got home, his mother was upset he was drunk and took him to the grocery store. She ended up sending him home after he caused a scene.

When there, his father, Pete or “P.H.,” was home, drinking a cup of coffee. They argued and the enraged teen shot at his dad and then fired at a neighbor before going to his grandfather’s trailer nearby.

Chet Young said his grandson’s face was distorted and he looked him in the eye and said, “I am going to shoot,” according to court documents. Young was hit in the leg as he tried to run away.

Petersen then came across his father stumbling across Lewis Street, court documents said. Thinking his father was getting police, Petersen fired several shots. His father crumpled to the ground and Petersen took off.

Moments later Jackson and police Chief A.L. McKibbin showed up as P.H. clung to life. Jackson, a set of Columbia Basin News reporters in tow, set out to stop the rampage.

A short while later, the fatal six shots rang out from the alley near the intersection of Main Avenue and Lewis Street where Jackson had found Petersen.

Columbia Basin News photographer Dick Farris snapped a photo of Jackson seconds after he was shot. It shows the bloodied policeman wrapping up Petersen for the arrest — the last of Jackson’s life.

“Jackson stopped for a second while the boy was firing at him point blank, turned his head a bit and seemed to have a stunned expression on his face,” Farris said in 1955. “It kind of looked like Jackson and the boy surprised each other.”

Bob Gore, now 94, was a Pasco police officer in 1955 and good friends with Jackson. Gore was at home eating a smelt dinner when he got word his brother in blue had been shot.

Gore showed up to a somber scene at the hospital. He had arrived too late to say goodbye.

Now, 60 years later, Gore told the Herald he still remembers the dark cloud cast over the city in the days following the shooting. The retired Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy still can’t shake the fact that Jackson was killed by the exact type of person he focused his life and career on helping.

“The kids would always say, ‘Send Jackson,’ ” Gore said at his retirement home. “That has bothered me for the last 50 or 60 years. The fact he did think so much of kids, then to have one of them do that.”

‘I wonder if they will hang me’

More than two weeks after the shooting, Petersen’s father died from his injuries. The prosecutor charged Petersen with two counts of murder and one count of second-degree assault.

Petersen initially pleaded innocent by reason of insanity and mental irresponsibility. As the teen sat in jail he asked deputies, “I wonder if they will hang me?” according to a news account.

Prosecutor Roger Olson and Petersen’s lawyers reached a plea six months after the shootings. The deal allowed Petersen to plead guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Jackson and manslaughter for killing his father. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla.

At his pre-sentencing evaluation, parole officer Robert Dysart, who examined Petersen and spoke to his family, wrote that there was little chance the young killer could be rehabilitated.

“The only redeeming thing about Richard Petersen is his youthful age — he is only 16 years old,” Dysart wrote. “He appears at this time to be a potentially dangerous person in free society and his future should be decided by qualified psychiatrists and sociologists.”

Four years after he was convicted, in December 1959, Petersen again graced the front page of newspapers when he made a daring escape attempt from the penitentiary.

Armed with homemade bombs and shanks, Petersen, then 20, tried to break free with two other prisoners, reports said. Petersen, the apparent ringleader, snatched his mother’s car keys from her while she was visiting. The trio then took a corrections officer hostage, stabbing the man in the process.

Warden Bob Rhay confronted the men and ordered a corrections officer to shoot Petersen, reports said. When the officer froze, Rhay grabbed a revolver and shot Petersen near the heart. The warden also shot another prisoner.

Petersen underwent emergency surgery and was not expected to survive, but he did.

For many in the Tri-Cities who kept up with Petersen, that was the last they heard of him. Rumors circulated that he was stabbed in a prison riot or that he died at the hands of the warden.

Petersen made it out of prison on parole nearly 10 years into his sentence, records show. He moved to Spokane to live with his mother. Only a few months later he struck and killed a 44-year-old pedestrian while he was driving. Police suspected Petersen had been drinking.

Petersen was charged with negligent homicide shortly after the crash, records show. It’s unclear if the charge was dropped, but Petersen was released from jail a few months later on the condition he not drink. In June 1966, a year after he was freed, Petersen violated his parole and he was returned to prison.

Regrets later in life

While in the Walla Walla prison, Petersen crossed paths with a woman named Dorothy who worked in an office at the facility. The man that Dorothy got to know was much different than the person she says she read about in Petersen’s prison file.

“I was amazed he could be such a good person having gone through what he went through,” she told the Herald.

Shortly after Petersen was paroled in September 1970, the couple married — without the blessing of Dorothy’s family, she said. By all accounts they lived a mostly happy life together for the next 35 years.

Petersen managed to stay out of trouble with the law and held several jobs, according to court records and his family. He retired in 2000 after a long career with the Department of Licensing.

Petersen died in 2005 of Hepatitis C, which doctors think he may have contracted during a blood transfusion when he was shot.

“Honestly if you didn't know the background, he was just a normal person, other than the fact he had to spend his life living with the fact he destroyed others’ lives,” said his stepson, Marc.

Petersen spoke openly about his past with Dorothy and expressed remorse for stripping the Jackson children of their father. The demons that plagued him as a child sometimes crept out of the shadows. He battled alcoholism, entering rehab twice before getting completely sober in the late ‘70s.

“He really of course regretted things, but he couldn't change it,” she said. “I know if he could have undone his past he would have, naturally. Who wouldn't have?”

From the Officer Down Memorial Page for Alva M. Jackson:

Patrolman Alva M. Jackson

  • Pasco Police Department
  • Washington
  • End of Watch: Friday, April 1, 1955

Biographical Info

  • Age: 38
  • Tour of Duty: 7 years
  • Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause of Death: Gunfire
  • Date of Incident: Friday, April 1, 1955
  • Weapon Used: Handgun; .22 caliber
  • Suspect Info: Apprehended

Patrolman Jackson was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a youth who had murdered his father and wounded his grandfather.

As Patrolman Jackson chased the suspect on foot he rounded a corner and was confronted by the boy. As he attempted to talk the suspect into giving up, the boy opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver, striking Patrolman Jackson several times. Although mortally wounded, Patrolman Jackson was still able to overpower the boy and hold him until other units took him into custody.

Patrolman Jackson was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries two hours later.

Patrolman Jackson had been with the agency for five years and had served with the Hood River, Oregon, Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.

From the City View Cemetery grave lookup:

Interment Information

  • Occupant Name: ALVA, MEAD JACKSON
  • Burial Location: CITYVIEW-9-1-6
  • Cemetery Name: City View Cemetery
  • Date of Birth: 06/08/1916
  • Date of Death: 04/01/1955
  • Date of Burial: 04/04/1955
  • Gender: M
  • Age: 39
  • Veteran: Yes

Owner Information

  • Owner Name(s): n/a VETS RELIEF FUND


Bonnie Knapp's tribute to Alva M Jackson on Find A Grave:

Ben M. Angel notes:

Not long after Alva's younger sister Alice was born, both of his parents, John Alva and Alice Elnora (Thomas) Jackson, died when the Spanish Influenza epidemic passed through Laramie, Wyoming, leaving the two children as orphans. They apparently went to live with their mother's parents in Brighton, Colorado, a farming community to the east of Alva's birthplace of Boulder in the plains county of Adams. Heman and Elnora Thomas' family's eldest three daughters were already married off: Katherine to William Reuben Jackson in 1908 (Laramie, Wyoming), Grace to William Smith in 1911 (Fort Collins, Colorado), and Alva's mother Alice to John Alva Jackson, his father, in 1915 (Boulder's Christian Church Parsonage). Remaining were William Mead (age 21), Hazel (age 16), and Ethel (age 11), all of whom would marry by the 1930 census, and Mable, who was born around the same time as Alva in Boulder.


Mead Thomas in household of H M Thomas, "United States Census, 1920"

  • Name: Mead Thomas
  • Event Type: Census
  • Event Year: 1920
  • Event Place: Brighton, Adams, Colorado, United States
  • District: 6
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 3
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Race: White
  • Race (Original): White
  • Relationship to Head of Household: Grandson
  • Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Grandson
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1917
  • Birthplace: Colorado
  • Father's Birthplace: United States
  • Mother's Birthplace: Missouri
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 20A
  • Household ID: 453
  • Line Number: 18
  • Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Affiliate Publication Number: T625
  • GS Film number: 1820155
  • Digital Folder Number: 004294425
  • Image Number: 00131
  • Household Gender Age Birthplace
  • Head H M Thomas M 54 Michigan
  • Wife Elnora Thomas F 44 Iowa
  • Son Mead Thomas M 21 Wyoming
  • Daughter Hazel Thomas F 16 Wyoming
  • Daughter Ethel Thomas F 11 Wyoming
  • Daughter Mabel Thomas F 2 Colorado
  • Grandson Mead Thomas M 3 Colorado
  • Granddaughter Alice Thomas F 2 Colorado

"United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2013), Mead Thomas in household of H M Thomas, Brighton, Adams, Colorado, United States; citing sheet , family 453, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820155.


By 1930, the family had relocated to Canyon County, Idaho. Alva Mead (who apparently went by the name "Mead" at his grandparents' place) and Alice Elnora had both been adopted as Heman and Elnora's children. They mixed in well with their youngest aunt, Mable, who was probably more sister than aunt to them. By the 1930 census, Alva and Alice's aunt Hazel, and the family she started with Allan Green, were living with Heman and Elnora on their Idaho farm. Alva Mead would still be at the farm in 1935, when he was age 18, but would soon after set out on his own.

Mead Thomas in household of Herman Thomas, "United States Census, 1930"

  • Name: Mead Thomas
  • Event Type: Census
  • Event Year: 1930
  • Event Place: Middleton, Canyon, Idaho, United States
  • District: 0038
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 13
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Race: White
  • Race (Original): White
  • Relationship to Head of Household: Adopted son
  • Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Adopted Son
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1917
  • Birthplace: Colorado
  • Father's Birthplace: Indiana
  • Mother's Birthplace: Missouri
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 8A
  • Household ID: 179
  • Line Number: 16
  • Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Affiliate Publication Number: T626
  • Affiliate Film Number: 398
  • GS Film number: 2340133
  • Digital Folder Number: 004584324
  • Image Number: 01036
  • Household Gender Age Birthplace
  • Head Herman Thomas M 64 Indiana
  • Wife Eleanore Thomas F 54 Iowa
  • Adopted son Mead Thomas M 13 Colorado
  • Daughter Mabel Thomas F 13 Colorado
  • Adopted daughter Alice Thomas F 12 Colorado
  • Daughter Hazel Green F 27 Wyoming
  • Son-in-law Allan Green M 29 Minnesota
  • Grandson Allan Green M 3 Idaho
  • Grandson Delbert Green M 1 Idaho
  • Granddaughter Betty Mae Green F 0 Idaho

"United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2013), Mead Thomas in household of Herman Thomas, Middleton, Canyon, Idaho, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0038, sheet , family 179, NARA microfilm publication .


Alva had moved out of his home between Caldwell and Middleton in Canyon County, and had taken up mining in the mountains above Boulder. He apparently lived in Nederland, near Tungsten, and was working 48 hour (probably 6-day) work weeks before World War II. During the war, he would finally meet Clara Mae Ellis, originally of Hood River, Oregon, and the two married while he was stationed at Fort Lewis (he earned the rank of Technician Grade 5 - equivalent in many ways to corporal - in the 209th Military Police Company, as noted on his gravestone). After the war, he settled with his wife for a few years in Hood River, and then moved up to Yakima, where he worked a brief stint as a radio repairman. Finally, he was hired as a police officer in Pasco, and he moved his family to the ever growing Tri-Cities of Washington state.

Alva M Jackson, "United States Census, 1940"

  • Name: Alva M Jackson
  • Event Type: Census
  • Event Date: 1940
  • Event Place: Election Precinct 13, Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 23
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Race (Original): White
  • Race: White
  • Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Head
  • Relationship to Head of Household: Head
  • Birthplace: Colorado
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1917
  • Last Place of Residence: Caldwell, Canyon, Idaho
  • District: 7-16
  • Family Number: 37
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 2A
  • Line Number: 21
  • Affiliate Publication Number: T627
  • Affiliate Film Number: 457
  • Digital Folder Number: 005449362
  • Image Number: 00223

"United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2013), Alva M Jackson, Election Precinct 13, Boulder, Colorado, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 7-16, sheet 2A, family 37, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 457.

From image: 7-16 Election Precinct 13 - Nederland Towns, Tungsten. Boulder County, Colorado (lived alone):

  • Line No.
  • 1. Location: Street, avenue, road, etc.
  • 2. Location: House number (in cities and towns)
  • 3. Household data: number of household in order of visitation: 37
  • 4. House owned (O) or rented (R): R
  • 5. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rent, if rented: 5
  • 6. Does this household live on a farm (yes or no): No.
  • 7. Name of each person whose usual place of residence on April 1, 1940, was in this household (enter X after name of person furnishing information): Jackson, Alva M. X
  • 8. Relationship of this person to the head of the household: Head
  • A. Code: 0
  • 9. Sex -Male (M), Female (F): M
  • 10. Color or race: W
  • 11. Age at last birthday: 23
  • 12. Marital Status: S
  • 13. Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940? No.
  • 14. Highest grade of school completed: H1
  • B. Code: 9
  • 15. If born in the United States, give state, territory, or possession: Colorado
  • C. Code: 91
  • 16. Citizenship of the foreign born:
  • 17. In what place did this person live on April 1, 1935, City: Caldwell
  • 18. County: Canyon
  • 19. State: Idaho
  • 20. On a farm? Yes.
  • D. Code: 8924
  • 21. Was this person at work for pay or profit in private or non-emergency govt. work during week of March 24-301 (yes or no) Yes
  • 22. If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public Emergency Work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-301 (yes or no): -
  • 23. If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work, was this person seeking work? -
  • 24. If not seeking work, did he have a job, business, etc.: -
  • 25. For persons answering no to 21-24, indicate whether engaged in home housework (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): -
  • E. Code: 1
  • 26. If at private or non-emergency government work, number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940: 48
  • 27. If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work, duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940, in weeks:
  • 28. Occupation - trade, profession, or particular kind of work: Miner
  • 29. Industry - industry or business: Metal
  • 30. Class of worker: P.W.
  • F. Occupation, industry, and class of worker Code: 454 V3 1
  • 31. Number of weeks worked in 1939 (equivalent full time works): 44
  • 32. Amount of money, wages, or salary received (including commissions): 704
  • 33. Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? No.
  • 34. Number of farm schedule:
  • Line number: 21


Alva Mead Jackson, "Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008"

  • Name: Alva Mead Jackson
  • Spouse's Name: Clara Mae Ellis
  • Event Date: 28 Apr 1942
  • Event Place: , Pierce, Washington
  • Marriage License Date: 24 Apr 1942
  • Registration Place: , Thurston, Washington
  • Digital Folder Number: 4140539
  • Image Number: 00253
  • Reference ID: 19524

"Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2013), Alva Mead Jackson and Clara Mae Ellis, 28 Apr 1942.


Marriage certificate image:

  • State of Washington
  • County of Pierce

This is to certify that the undersigned, a Justice of the Peace, by authority of a License bearing the date the 24th day of April, A.D. 1942, and issued by the County Auditor of the County of Thurston, did on the 28th day of April, A.D. 1942, at 9:10 p.m. in the County and State aforesaid, join in LAWFUL WEDLOCK Alva Mead Jackson of the County of Pierce of the State of Washington, and Clara Mae Ellis of the County of Pierce of the State of Washington, with their mutual assent, in the presence of Clasina Haley and Cathleen Layton, IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, witness the signatures of the parties to said ceremony, the witnesses and myself, this 28th day of April, A.D. 1942.

Witnesses: Clasina Haley, Kathleen Layton

Parties: Alva Mead Jackson, Clara Mae Ellis

Officiating clergyman or officer: Clarence E. Layton, Tacoma, Washington

Filed: Superior Court, Thurston County, Washington, May 15, 8:54 a.m., 1942, Ellis C. Ayer, Clerk

State of Washington, County of Pierce:

I, L.W. Craig, County Clerk of Pierce County, and ex-officio clerk of the Superior Court of the State of Washington, for the County of Pierce, do hereby certify that I have compared the foregoing copy with the original marriage certificate of Alva Mead Jackson and Clara Mae Ellis as the same appears on file and of record in my office, and that the same is a true and perfect transcript of said original and of the whole thereof.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Seal of said Superior Court at my office at Tacoma this 30th day of April, 1942.

A.L. Scott (apparently for L. W. Craig), Clerk.


Alva's death was, unfortunately, the stuff of high drama, and is well documented in news reports. However, it took until the 1990s before the state finally awarded him, alongside many other officers who died in the line of duty, posthumously for his service.

The young man he subdued bare-handed (despite being hit by him with a .22 pistol) survived his sentence, and was eventually released in the Spokane area. His ultimate fate was described in a 2015 article written on the 60th anniversary of Officer Jackson's death.

Alva Mead Jackson, "Washington, Death Certificates, 1907-1960"

  • Name: Alva Mead Jackson
  • Event Date: 01 Apr 1955
  • Event Place: Pasco, Franklin, Washington
  • Gender: Male
  • Age (Formatted): 39 years
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1916
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Spouse's Name: Clara M. Jackson
  • Father's Name: John A. Jackson
  • Mother's Name: Alice Thomas
  • GS Film number: 2033485
  • Digital Folder Number: 4224495
  • Image Number: 1739
  • Reference ID: 6238

"Washington, Death Certificates, 1907-1960," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2013), Alva Mead Jackson, 01 Apr 1955.

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Alva Mead Jackson's Timeline

June 8, 1916
Boulder, Boulder County, Colorado, United States
- April 1, 1955
Age 33
City of Pasco Police Department, Pasco, Washington, United States
April 1, 1955
Age 38
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Pasco, Franklin County, Washington, United States
April 4, 1955
Age 38
City View Cemtery (Plot 9-1-6), Pasco, Franklin County, Washington, United States
City of Hood River Police Department, Hood River, Oregon, United States
Yakima, Washington, United States