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Officer Floyd C. Eiler
(Dec. 30, 1885 Dec. 25, 1911)


In the early 1900s, a small-time crook in New Orleans decided to head west. Perhaps the situation in New Orleans was getting too hot for him, or he was looking for a new place to ply his trade. He first ended up in San Francisco, where he convinced a young man to become his criminal accomplice.

The pair headed south to Los Angeles, with plans to hold up restaurants, and rob people on the street at night. They took adjoining rooms at the Garey Hotel, at South Garey and 1st streets, between downtown and the Los Angeles River -- a prime area filled with saloons, pubs and restaurants, and plenty of late-night pedestrians.

On the afternoon of Dec. 21, 1911, the two men visited a sporting goods store, bought a .38-caliber Colt revolver, and returned to their hotel to wait for nightfall.

At about 11 p.m., the pair went into Billy's Chop House near their hotel, with plans for a robbery. Shortly after they entered, the younger accomplice hesitated, and said he would need a drink first. The older man became angry, pulled out the gun, and hit his accomplice on the head. He then ran behind the counter of the restaurant, looking for the money drawer.

The younger man panicked, and ran out of the restaurant. The older man, afraid that the police had been called, followed him out onto the street. As they were running south on Garey Street, the older man, angry that his robbery plans had gone awry, fired at his accomplice, but didn't hit him. The younger man, still groggy from the blow on the head and now thinking that he had been shot, collapsed on the street as the older man continued to run.

Officer Floyd Eiler, who joined the LAPD less than two months earlier, was walking his beat a block away, on Hewitt Street, when he heard the gunshot and ran toward the sound. Eiler and the gunman nearly ran into each other at the intersection of Garey and 2nd streets. Immediately and without saying a word, the gunman raised his weapon and shot Eiler in the chest at point-blank range, with the bullet passing through his body, just beneath his heart.

The gunman ran off, but Eiler was able to return fire, hitting him in the back before falling to the ground. James Martin, a friend of Eiler's who witnessed the shooting, rushed to the scene and picked up Eiler's gun. Martin fired another shot and hit the fleeing gunman. Both the police officer and the gunman were taken to the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital. Eiler died four days later, on Christmas, five days before his 26th birthday. The gunman also died.

Eiler was the fourth LAPD officer to die in the line of duty in 1911 -- Arthur Crusey was shot to death in May, Cecil Bowman was hit by a train in June, and James Wylie was struck and killed by a streetcar in November.

Floyd Charles Eiler was born on Dec. 30, 1885, in Paola, Kansas, the fourth of five children of Daniel W. and Louisa M. Wolfe Eiler. (Daniel Eiler, a farmer, also had five children with his first wife, Mary B. Sheley Eiler, although two died in infancy. Mary Eiler died on October 1875, at the age of 38, and Daniel Eiler remarried two years later.)

After Eiler's father died in 1907, Eiler, 21, and his brother Roy, 23, moved to Los Angeles, where they found work as truck drivers for a laundry company. Eiler's mother and younger sister, Ada, later joined them, while the other children remained in Kansas. Eiler joined the LAPD on Oct. 25, 1911, working in Central Division. At the time of his death, he was living on East 25th Street, with his mother and sister, while Roy Eiler lived on East 22nd Street.

Eiler was buried at Rosedale Cemetery (now Angelus Rosedale Cemetery). LAPD Chief, and later Los Angeles Mayor, Charles E. Sebastian issued a statement, recounting Eiler's comments as he lay dying in the hospital: "Chief, I did my best to perform my duty. I know I am dying. All I ask of the boys is to take care of mother."

"Too much in the way of commendation cannot be said for the bravery he exhibited and his thoughtfulness for his mother," Sebastian said. "His death is considered a loss to the police department."

To honor Eiler's final request, a benefit dance was held in January 1912, with proceeds going to Eiler's family. Eiler's mother died in Los Angeles in 1959, at the age of 101.

Eiler's younger sister, Ada, later married an LAPD officer, Sgt. Robert M. Turner.

Eiler's sign is located on the south side of East 1st Street, west of South Garey Street.



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