On December 6, 1972, Tustin Police Officer Waldron “Wally” Karp was on patrol when he answered a call to backup an Orange County Deputy Sheriff who was responding to a “man with a gun” call. As they approached the residence, they heard rustling in the bushes outside. They called for the suspect to come out. Instead, the suspect fired and hit Officer Karp and a sheriffs deputy.
On January 7, 1973, Officer Karp succumbed to his injuries and passed away. He was a Marine combat veteran and a family man who left behind a grieving wife and children.
For years, Karp’s photo hung in the lobby of the Tustin Police Department as the sole reminder of his sacrifice. But, in 2001, the work and planning of a group of employees led to the construction of a proper memorial for the only TPD officer to die in the line of duty. The memorial stands outside the department’s entrance as a reminder to all not just of Karp’s sacrifice, but the dedication of each police officer that enters the door of the Tustin Police Department.
The memorial ceremony will take place on the 42nd anniversary of Karp’s death, January 7, 2015 at 5;30 pm. The memorial is located in front of the police department, 300 Centennial Drive, Tustin CA.
In December, 1972, I was on leave from the United States Air Force and heading home to my family, who then lived in Colorado. At the time, I don’t think I had ever heard of our town Tustin. I may have traveled through here on my way to somewhere else. I may have even stopped for gas or a bite to eat. I do know that I was on my way home to a happier time. Neither Tustin nor I knew the tragedy that would hit one evening, tearing a community apart.
On December 6, a few weeks before Christmas, Tustin Police Officer Wally Karp responded to backup an Orange County Sheriffs Deputy about a man with a gun. Karp, a former Navy Corpsman during Vietnam, was with other officers who heard noises in the bushes outside the building. They yelled for the suspect to show himself.
Instead, the perpetrator sent a bullet toward Karp, mortally wounding him and shooting a deputy in the face. Karp died, a month later, on January 7, 1973.
I didn’t know Wally Karp. As I said, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Tustin at the time, even though it is one of the oldest communities in Orange County and I grew up here. But, I have known men and women like him who, today, stand up for and protect our community with professionalism and pride. And, they would like you to join them.
On January 7, 2014, at 5:30 pm, the Tustin Police Department will honor Officer Wally Karp in a ceremony at the Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial. The public is invited to attend this solemn ceremony as officers gather to celebrate the memory of Karp, and in hopes of never having to place another name next to his.