Aug. 7, 1943: A zoot suit with a drape shape, reet pleat and stuff cuff in the comics!
This is a story that, as presented in The Times, seems straightforward: A Palos Verdes police officer responding to a rowdy party is attacked and kills two people and wounds two others while defending himself.
But it’s clear that there’s more to this story than what was reported, at least in The Times. One story notes that extra deputies were on duty at the inquest and said “feeling among the spectators” was “running high.”
What’s clear is that two shipyard workers were dead and two others were in the hospital — along with the police lieutenant who shot them — after a drunken brawl at the Palos Verdes Country Club.
Workers from an unidentified shipyard had rented the club for a party and about 10 p.m., the manager, Ray Roberts, called police “to help preserve order,” when the partiers became “boisterous,” The Times said.
Lt. Wilford Windas and Capt. Bruce Johnston responded to the club and remained until closing time at midnight, when Roberts asked them to help clear the bar.
Windas and Johnston began “herding truculent customers toward the door,” The Times said. Roberts said an argument broke out between Windas and Mrs. Alice L. Gildner, 1734 E. 3rd St., Long Beach.
What happened next occurred so quickly that the shooting was over before Johnston could respond, The Times said.
Windas had escorted Gildner’s husband, Frederick Edward Gildner, and Buron Diamond of San Pedro outside the club when they attacked, Windas said. Diamond hit Windas on the jaw, knocking him to the ground. Gildner took Windas’ blackjack and began beating him with it while Diamond kicked him.
Lying on the ground, Windas drew his .38 revolver and shot Gildner to death and wounded Diamond in the groin.
The front door of the club “burst open,” Roberts said, and Windas — still holding his revolver — ran inside, pursued by about eight shipyard workers and their wives.
Windas tried to get into the bar, but the door was locked, so he turned to face the mob.
“The crowd, yelling and cursing at the top of their voices, piled right in on him,” Roberts said. Someone picked up a heavy ornamental iron chair in the cocktail lounge and threw it at Windas. The officer fired again, with the bullet going into the ceiling. His final shot struck Thomas Moore, 37, in the chest, passed through his body and struck Arthur E. Rupp.
“After the shooting in the cocktail lounge, and its resultant lull, the two policemen managed to restore a semblance of order,” The Times said.
Frederick Gildner died at the scene. Moore, of 4110 S. La Salle Ave., died of his wounds. Rupp, 301 Market St., North Long Beach, and Diamond, of San Pedro, were hospitalized, as was Windas. All three men were still hospitalized at the time of the inquest and unable to testify.
The coroner’s inquest ruled that Windas shot the four men in the line of duty but recommended that the case be investigated. At the inquest, Diamond’s wife, Charlotte, fainted after giving her name and did not testify. Gildner’s sister collapsed after the verdict was read, The Times said.
The Los Angeles County Grand Jury heard testimony from nearly 20 witnesses before refusing to indict Windas in the incident.