End of Watch: 07/21/1949
Agency: Seattle Police Department
County: King County
Around 10:00 a.m. on 7-20-1949, King County Superior Court Judge Howard M. Find refused a request by James Jackson, 55, to rescind his $50 per month support payments to his estranged wife. Jackson was upset about the judge’s decision. He found his wife waiting for a bus in front of the courthouse where he attacked her. She escaped by running into traffic. Jackson found his wife again around 10:45 p.m. She was sitting with friends on the front porch of a house . Jackson drove up in a car and started shooting with a .45 pistol. One of the friends was hit three times. Jackson drove away.
Jackson’s car was located. Police ordered it impounded but officers did not stand by until the tow truck arrived. Around midnight a tow truck driver was preparing to impound Jackson’s car. Jackson came out of the house and shot the tow truck driver in the arm. Officers responded to the house. Jackson retreated to a basement bedroom.
Detective Harry W. Vosper, 42, had just gone off-duty but was still at the police station. He heard the call of the tow truck driver’s shooting on police radio. He responded to the call to assist fellow officers and detectives.
Around 12:30 a.m. on 7-21-1949, Officers W. G. Scott and Ted Yerabek entered the basement of the house and exchanged shots with Jackson. Officer Scott became pinned down in a coal bin, unable to get out of the basement. Detective Don Sprinkle threw a tear gas grenade into Jackson’s bedroom, and Officer Scott was able to get out of the basement. After Scott was out of the basement, Detective Sgt. I. A. O’Mera threw more tear gas grenades into Jackson’s room. Around 12:40 a.m., Jackson came charging out of the basement. Detective Harry Vosper stepped between Jackson and Detective Sprinkle. Jackson fired one shot which hit Vosper. Jackson was then shot and killed by on scene officers. Detective Vosper was rushed to Harborview County Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His funeral was held on 7-25-1949 at Forkner’s Chapel on University Way. Harry Vosper was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in West Seattle.
Harry William Vosper was born on March 19, 1907 in Seattle. He grew up in West Seattle, and graduated from West Seattle High School, class of 1926. He married Bernice Bearse in 1927. Harry’s occupation for many years was as a driver. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy before the start of WW II. He left the Navy in 1945 and was commissioned as a Seattle police officer on December 26, 1945
Detective Vosper served the Seattle Police Department for four years. He is survived by his wife, Bernice, his parents and his sister.