Richard Seeley was a career criminal. His arrest record dated back to 1935, legitimate enterprise was not part of his vocabulary. On a spring day in 1958 this 50 year-old parolee had robbery on his mind. Seeley and his partner planned a daylight robbery of Bob’s Market in South Whittier. The store opened at 9AM and if everything worked out, they would be through and on their way before it even opened for business. They parked their get-away vehicle on a side street 2 blocks away and approached the Market on foot. They had with them butcher’s aprons in which they had wrapped a sawed-off shotgun, carried by Seeley and his partner had a .32 Smith & Wesson in his pocket. Adjacent to the market was a service station where they would enter the men’s room, don the aprons, and then proceed around the northwest corner of the market where the meat driver would be making his delivery and the rear door would be open.


        All went well for the two…at gunpoint, they surprised the meat man as well as a bread deliveryman and ordered them both inside through the open door. They also surprised the assistant manager and four other employees. They ordered everyone to the floor while Seeley had the assistant manager clean out the safe, which sat in plain view, near the front door.  As the two started to leave, they asked who had the keys to the new 1958 Ford sitting in the north parking lot.


        “That’s the owner’s car,” replied the frightened assistant manager. Much to the dismay and surprise of the bandits they hadn’t counted on this. They soon learned that the owner…Bob Mayfield was in his cubbyhole office on the second floor and when the two had cased the layout they had simply missed that detail.  Another thing they hadn’t counted on was that Mr. Mayfield had overheard them coming in and had dialed the Sheriff’s Department and whispered into the dispatcher’s ear.

         “This is Bob’s market at Carmenita and Meyer Roads…we are being robbed…come quick,” and hung up the phone. Soon Mr. Mayfield found himself on the floor along with the rest of his employee’s, but now he had a shotgun stuck in his mouth and a vicious Richard Seeley screaming.

“If you called the cops…by God you’re a dead man!” He then took the car keys from Mr. Mayfield and threw them to his partner while telling him, “Back up the car near the door and I’ll keep my gun on them while you do… and I’ll kill the first son-of-bitch that moves!” His partner took the keys and headed out toward the north parking lot and the new 1957 Ford.


        On this Friday morning I was sitting on an intersection monitoring traffic when the call came out. “Car’s 43 and 43-Adam assist, a 211 IN PROGRESS (means a robbery) at Bob’s Market…corner Carmenita and Meyer Rd.” I was Car 43-Denver and they hadn’t even given me an assist! I was an extra car that had been fielded that day and I think the dispatcher had forgotten I was out there. Car 43 acknowledged and gave an ETA  of about 10 minutes. Car 43Adam acked and said “ETA 15.” I grabbed my mike and shouted, “43-denver  rolling…ETA 30 seconds!” Heck, I was only about 5 blocks away!


As I approached Bob’s Market I could see a man sitting in a vehicle near the front entrance. I wheeled the patrol car to a stop behind it and alighted, all the while I was jacking a round of double-00 buckshot into the chamber of my shotgun. From the corner of my eye I could see the service station attendant looking at me in a puzzled manner. I shoved my shotgun through the driver’s window and yelled. “What’s going on here?” The poor driver just could not speak…he tried to… but words wouldn’t come. Now the gas station attendant came toward me and asked, “What’s wrong officer... he is one of my regular customers and is just waiting for the store to open?” I told him that we had received a “robbery in progress call.” I apologized to the waiting customer and began checking the front door to see if it was secure. Then I started walking around to the north side of the building, all the while checking through the plate glass windows looking for some kind of activity. I saw no sign of anyone and even the safe, which sat near the front, looked secure. I am beginning to relax now… (many times we get calls to roll on a silent alarms only to have the employees look at you like you are some kind of nut running into their place of business with a shotgun in hand…banks are notorious for this).  As I rounded the northeast corner of the building I saw that the rear door was ajar and a meat truck and bread van parked nearby…then my attention was drawn to the parking lot.


        Imagine my surprise to see a white male about 30 years old, wearing a baseball cap and a butchers apron, walking hurriedly across the parking lot toward a new 1958 Ford Fairlane that was parked on the north end. I looked again to the rear door of the market and back again to the man in the butcher’s apron. He paused for a moment …giving me a sort of “what’s up” shrug with his shoulders and then continued on toward the Ford Fairlane. (If the market owner had been able to give more information about the suspects when he telephoned my next move would have been a snap. However, at this point I wasn’t certain that a robbery was going down.)…. I decided I couldn’t let that guy reach the car without checking him out and was about to order him to halt, but upon turning back to the delivery trucks, I saw a second man. He was also wearing a butcher’s apron and a dark brown hat. He was so intent upon looking toward suspect #1 that at first he did not see me. He had a bank deposit bag in his left hand and his right hand was concealed beneath his apron. The first thought through my mind was of my father-in-law who was a milk man and always carried his money and change on his route in a bank bag…could this guy be legit?  I thought I would try a bluff so I barked, “Get down on the ground and don’t move!” The guy in the hat began to retreat toward the open back door and I screamed again… this time I said “I’ll blow your ass in two if you don’t stop! Don’t make me kill you God-Damn it!” I knew what a hole that double-00 buck would make in him at a distance of 20 feet. I still had not seen a gun in his possession. The guy must be crazy…for he says to me, “Look, you got me, I’ll do 20 years for this…just don’t shoot!” Suddenly, he leaped backwards through the open rear door and as he did his concealed shotgun discharged. The noise was deafening and I could hear a woman screaming from inside. The shot was accidental and it struck a linseed oil can sitting on a shelf, spraying linseed oil every which way. Now I was in a fix…I knew that I had waited too long to shoot …I had been overly cautious. Yes, shooting at Japanese Zero’s strafing and bombing our convoy in war time was one thing…but if I had killed an innocent man… that was more than I wished to live with.  I yelled for the suspect to throw out his gun and surrender and to my eternal gratitude he did just that. It turned out that he had only a single shell in his sawed-off shotgun . I ordered him to the ground and as he complied I saw his partner in the new Ford leaving the lot heading north just as Car 43 was coming south and the two passed each other. (At that time we did not have radio communication between officers as they do today).


        I cuffed suspect Seeley and as he lay face down on the ground. I then ordered  the remaining employee’s out of the building. One of the female clerks had to be restrained. She ran over to Seeley and started kicking him in the face and stomach, screaming “You’re not so tough now are you…you dirty son-of a bitch!”


        Seeley, subsequently gave up the name of his crime partner, he thought it would get him a better deal from the judge. The Detectives picked his partner up in Bell Gardens 2 days later. They even recovered the .32 pistol from a cookie jar in his kitchen apartment. Seeley died in San Quentin prison without ever again tasting freedom. I lost track of the other guy…I just hope he went straight…that’s about all a cop can hope for anyway. I retired from the Sheriff’s Department in 1979. Each time I read of a cop getting blown away I think back to that day at Bob’s Market and wonder if my hesitancy to shoot could have been my undoing. I have also asked myself, had it been the other way around and Seeley had the drop on me…would I be here today writing about it?

By: L. Brademeyer

Det. Sgt. Retired

LACO Sheriff’s Dept.