The radio in patrol car 12 on the south-west side of Vancouver rapped out: “Investigate two suspect males prowling 1500 West Third Avenue.”

Patrolman Gordon Sinclair, alone in car 12, was closest to the incident only two blocks away, and was first on the scene. When the cover unit arrived only a few minutes later they found him lying dead beside his car, shot through the head and back.

His overcoat and uniform were buttoned up, covering his revolver, indicating that he had had no warning, no chance to defend himself.

Patrolman Hugh Wiebe of the cover unit got a fleeting glimpse of two men fleeing in a blue convertible driven by a third man. He gave chase but lost them. When the getaway car was found abandoned three weeks later police recognised it as belonging to notorious bank robber Joe Gordon, 37.

Gordon was arrested but released for lack of evidence. Two months later, in February, 1956, the second suspect, James Carey, 28, was arrested in Toronto. Faced with the death penalty he hastily agreed to give evidence against Gordon.

“We were casing a financial office that night,” he confessed. “We were going to get the safe. Then this cop arrived. He called us over and when he picked up his radio mike Gordon pulled his gun and said, ‘If you touch that thing I’ll blow your head off.’ He fired immediately. When the cop fell out of the car door Gordon stood over him and shot him again in the back.”

Both men were tried and sentenced to death. Joe Gordon was hanged on Tuesday, April 2nd, 1957, at Oakalla Prison. Carey’s death sentence was later commuted to life. He was released on March 3rd, 1968.