The Ambush of Officer James Sackett

(Image courtesy of  Cold Cases by State: MN)
On the night he was killed, James Sackett was working his first shift back on the streets of Saint Paul after enjoying a short paternal leave due to the birth of his son Jerel. Sackett was living a life that could easily be considered the fulfillment of his dreams. According to his mother he had “wanted to be a cop since he was small” and just eighteen months prior, on September 3, 1968, was able to fulfill that childhood wish. He lived his life to help people, even taking sociology classes after joining the police force in an effort to better understand those he would come in contact with every day. Just three weeks prior he and his wife Jeanette welcomed their fourth child, leaving Sackett with the two boys and two girls he had always talked about wanting. That dream life would end shortly after midnight on May 22, 1970 when Sackett, responding to a call to help a pregnant woman in distress, would be the victim of a “deliberate cold blooded murder”.

At 12:04 am a caller by the name of “Brown” (later identified as Connie Trimble) called and frantically told the dispatcher John Kinderman “My sister is having a baby. She is in labor now and the pains are two minutes apart. Get a squad here right away.” There was no woman in labor, the call was made to put a random police officer in the crosshairs of an ambush. Officer Sackett and his partner Officer Glen Kothe were sent to 859 Hague (on the corner of Hague and Victoria) to offer their assistance. Neither of them knew they were driving into a pre-arranged trap.

Officer Sackett went to the front door and knocked, after no one answered Officer Kothe went around the back to see if he could reach someone at the back door. Nineteen year old Richard Egge and his cousin fourteen year old Ernesto Lopez were inside the house watching TV at the time when they heard noises at the front of the house. To them it sounded like someone was trying to get it through the front screen door.  The porch was being used as an additional storage space so the door had been wired shut. Everyone that came to the house used the back door to get in an out.

Egge walked out to the porch to find out what was going on. The moment he got close enough to see outside (sometime around 12:10) a single shot rang out and Officer Sackett fell to the ground. Seconds later Officer Kothe came running around the house and seeing his fallen partner ran to his car to radio for help. Kothe then got out the car and noticed Egge on the porch. Thinking that he had shot his fallen partner the upset officer fired two shots at the nineteen year old. Egge ran inside and called the police to let them know what happened and make sure they understood that he had nothing to do with it.

Shortly after the incident the police realized that Sackett was the “victim of someone out to kill a policeman” and that the shooting came from a rooftop sniper just over 100 yards away at 882 Hague. Neighbors reported 1-3 people running through the neighborhood after the shooting, but the killers, decades later identified as Ronald Reed and Larry Clark, wouldn’t be convicted of their crimes for another 35 years.

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