Sergeant Ronald L. Heaps

Died on January 13, 1982

Age 33
Salt Lake City Police Department
Homicide: Handgun

Sergeant Heaps was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious person call. At approximately 9: 25 p.m., the 32-year-old victim and two other officers responded to the area of 1300 South 300 East. They contacted the occupants of a motor home, unaware that one of them was wanted for the October 2, 1981, murder of California Highway Patrol Officer John Martinez. When the officers inquired regarding the ownership of the motor home, the wanted suspect produced a 9mm pistol and began firing. Sergeant Heaps was struck between the panels of his body armor and died within a few minutes. Although wounded, the second officer shot and killed the suspect. Another suspect attempting to flee the area was shot and killed by the third officer. Sergeant Heaps was married and the father of four children. He is buried in Alpine City Cemetery. His bronze name plaque is sponsored by Salt Lake City Police Mutual Aid Association.


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One response to “Sergeant Ronald L. Heaps”

  1. Zak Nelson says:

    The second officer was my father, Dennis Nelson. He was shot in the arm and in the inside of his thigh, nicking his artery. He returned fire and shot the suspect, Eugene Gonzalez, 5 times (2x chest, 2x arm, once in the neck). Gonzalez fell dead where he had stood. Doug Roberts was the third officer.

    I was 4 at the time and one of my earliest memories is watching the evening news while sitting next to my pregnant mother, my two year old sister at her other side – and seeing my father in pressure pants to keep blood circulating above his waist because he had lost so much.

    One of the first responders on the scene (I don’t recall the name) was assigned to notify my mother of what had happened. He arrived just after the news and when he showed up on the doorstep to deliver the bad and potentially grave news to our family, and the porch light was turned on, he only then realized that his hands were still covered in my father’s blood. He broke down, and my pregnant mother led him inside to the kitchen sink, consoling him as she helped him wash my father’s blood off his hands.

    This shooting was the last call they were to have made that night and it ended up as Ron’s last call and almost as my father’s. I also remember going over to Ron Heap’s house after my father had recovered so that he could pay his respects and give his condolences to Anita. What a heartrending series of events! I believe that this deeply affected my father for the rest of his life and changed him deeply.

    God bless you and your family, Ron, for your sacrifice!

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