Incident Summary:

10/26/1972: Two African Americans, who might have been affiliated with the Black Panthers, ambushed Police Officer Jerry L. Spruill in Houston, Texas, United States. Officer Spruill was shot in the back six times and died from his wounds.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
Outside of restaurant

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Police
Name of Entity Houston Police Department
Specific Description Indiscriminate police officer in at restaurant in Houston Texas
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Handgun
Weapon Details
.22 and .38 caliber handguns
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information Police Officer Jerry Spruill was leaving a restaurant when he was ambushed from behind. It is believed that Marvin Joel Fentis wanted to join the Black Panthers or Black Muslims, but both organizations stated that Fentis' involvement was insignificant. However, Black Panther members were accused of sheltering Fentis after the incident.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Black Panthers (suspected) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 2
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 1 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 1
Number of U.S. Fatalities 1
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
S. K. Bardwell, "'72 Murder Case Is Unfinished Task; Detective Aims to Nab 2nd Suspect Before Retiring," Houston Chronicle, March 10, 2003.
Marcia McKnight Trick, "Chronology of Incidents of Terroristic, Quasi-Terroristic, and Political Violence in the United States: January 1965 to March 1976," National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals: Report of the Task Force on Disorders and Terrorism, 1976.
"The Officer Down Memorial Page Remembers: Police Officer Jerry L. Spruill," The Officer Down Memorial Page, 2009. .