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Fallen Trooper Elmer Ray Pyle

elmer ray pyle

Elmer Ray Pyle
1886 – 1938

Elmer Ray Pyle joined the Oregon State Traffic Division on August 1, 1926. In 1930 his salary was $1,996 per year. The traffic Division was part of the merger that formed the Oregon State Police on August 1, 1931. His original duty assignment was in Hillsboro. but he also served in Arlington and was assigned to the Bend office by 1937.

On the afternoon of Sunday, November 7, 1937, 51 year-old trooper E. R. “Ray” Pyle pulled his vehicle into Redmond and encountered 36 year old Oregon State Police Sergeant Arthur W. Tuck. Sgt. Tuck had just been notified by Deschutes County District Attorney, Bert C. Boylan, that according to a local attorney, E.O. Stadler, there was the possibility of problems at the Dalsgard-Olson chicken ranch that was owned by partners Andrew Dalsgard and Gust Olson in the nearby town of Terrebonne. Sunday was a day off for Sgt. Tuck and he was in civilian clothes and without his revolver. He informed trooper Pyle of the situation and the two decided to go out to the ranch to investigate. When they arrived at the ranch they were met by Gust Olson and in the yard Walter Hirsch, a local automobile mechanic, was working on Olson’s car.

Tuck asked Olson the whereabouts of Andrew Dalsgard and Olson replied that he was in town. Tuck accused Olson of lying and went toward the house to look in the window. At the same time Olson moved to the back of the automobile and pulled a single-shot 12 gauge shotgun from under a blanket. Trooper Pyle asked Olson what he was going to do with the shotgun and Olson replied that he was going to put it into the chicken house. Trooper Pyle approached Olson and told him that he should surrender the gun. Olson turned slowly and keeping the shotgun at hip height raised the barrel and fired at Trooper Pyle hitting him in the face from a distance of about 10 feet. Olson quickly reloaded the shotgun and was aiming at the mechanic Hirsch but Hirsch had quickly ducked behind the car. Olson turned toward Sgt. Tuck who had just seen Trooper Pyle fall. Sgt. Tuck, who had been an Olympic athlete, started to run toward his car. Just as Olson pulled the trigger Tuck slipped in the mud at the edge of an irrigation ditch and fell without being hit or injured. Sgt. Tuck regained his footing and saw Olson disappear into the chicken house. One of the officer’s automobiles had automatic rifles inside and Sgt. Tuck retrieved them and opened fire on the chicken house where Olson had disappeared. After a few minutes a single shot was heard from inside the chicken house. Sgt. Tuck cautiously approached the shed and found Olson dead inside from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sgt. Tuck and Walter Hirsch were then able to attend to Trooper Pyle who was severely wounded. He was rushed to St. Charles Hospital in Bend where he finally succumbed to his wounds over nine months later on August 17, 1938. Investigation at the chicken ranch found Andrew Dalsgard dead in a bedroom. He had apparently been murdered on the Friday before the attack on Trooper Pyle and Sgt. Tuck.

Elmer Pyle was a native of Missouri born in 1886 to William and Rebecka Cape Pyle. He had two brothers, Leander and Harry. Harry had died in 1922. Sometime before 1918 Elmer Pyle moved to Oregon and was a farmer in Baker County. About 1923 Elmer married Maud Boyce one of four daughters of Ira and Clara Boyce of John Day. Elmer and Maud did not have any children. Trooper Elmer Ray Pyle was buried in Canyon City Cemetery in Canyon City, Oregon. His grave is marked by an upright stone marked with the seal of the State of Oregon and noted “In Line of Duty”.

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