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PALOS VERDES ESTATES : Ceremony Honors Officers Shot to Death a Year Ago

Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

February 15, 1995

In a ceremony marked by humor and sadness, about 100 people filled the City Council chambers in Palos Verdes Estates on Tuesday to honor two police officers killed on Valentine's Day a year ago.

Capt. Michael Tracy, 50, and Sgt. Vernon Thomas Vanderpool, 57, were attending a management seminar at the nearby Torrance Holiday Inn last year when a gunman burst into the meeting room shouting, "This is a robbery!"

Tracy and Vanderpool were fatally shot. Gunman David Fukuto, the son of a state appeals court judge, was wrestled to the ground by other officers attending the seminar and later died of injuries.

Police Chief Gary Johansen, who was present when the two officers were shot, led the ceremony. Sgt. Dan Dreiling, who was also at the incident, read a list of the top 10 things the department misses about Tracy and Vanderpool. He told the story of how Vanderpool once ran out of gas while on patrol and ran back to the police station because he didn't want anyone to find out.

Lawrence Blum, a psychologist who helped the department's 23 officers deal with the killings, searched for an answer to the deaths.

"Maybe God wants to hang out with the good ones rather than the scums," he said.

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