On the evening of April 19, 1979, Special Enforcement Bureau Deputies George Barthel and Jimmy Hollingsworth were working saturation patrol in the Lynwood Station area. They entered the Nickerson Gardens housing project in Willowbrook and contacted a group of five men after seeing them toss what appeared to be PCP into the bushes. As the deputies exited their vehicle, they were ambushed by a man armed with a rifle. Hollingsworth was wounded in the face and side by fragments from one of the first shots fired. As he reached for his revolver he heard a second shot and saw Barthel bleeding. Hollingsworth heard three more shots and tried to shield Barthel with his body. The suspects ran off in all directions before either Hollingsworth or Barthel could return fire.
Four suspects were arrested within days after the shooting. In November 1980, Deputy Barthel’s killer was convicted of first degree murder. The following January he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Deputy Barthel was survived by his wife, Mary, and two children; his son, Edwin, 7, and daughter, Camiel, 2.
Sometime after the shooting, Deputy Hollingsworth gave a candid interview to television reporter Wayne Satz speaking about the night of Deputy Barthel’s murder and his own experiences as a peace officer. It is a riveting account of the toll the loss of a peace officer had on his partner and friend.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Museum