Type of Officer: Deputy Sheriff
Jurisdiction: Hamilton County
Death Date: 7/3/39
Added to Memorial: 2000
Circumstances of Death: Gunshot
On the morning of July 3, 1939, Hamilton County Undersheriff E. R. “Ray” Kumpf received a telephone call from Holly, Colorado officials informing him that two men who had attempted to rob a grocery store in that town were on their way toward Syracuse. Anticipating that the men likely would appear at the railroad depot, Undersheriff Kumpf went to the Santa Fe railroad station to search for them. The undersheriff, acting on information provided by a Santa Fe employee, found the two men at the east end of the station seeking to board a train. After talking with the men for several minutes, Undersheriff Kumpf ordered them to walk ahead of him to the county jail. As they started to move forward, one of the suspects whirled around, pulled a gun, and shot Undersheriff Kumpf in the chest. The undersheriff swayed but remained on his feet and attempted to pull his own gun. The suspect fired a second time and struck Undersheriff Kumpf in the head. He died before an ambulance could arrive. Following a brief search, a group of Syracuse citizens apprehended one of the suspects and recovered a handgun. The suspect later confessed to the shooting and was sentenced to life in prison. Undersheriff Kumpf was sixty-four years old and an eighteen year veteran of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. At the time of his death, he was survived by two children, Mrs. Maude Morris and Gus Kumpf, both of LaJunta, Colorado.