Constable Ernest Sargent

Constable Ernest SargentIt was November 5, 1927, and Constable Ernest Sargent was walking a one-man beat on the west side of Vancouver.

He stopped in the 2700 block of Alder Street at 4:30 a.m. to make a mandatory hourly call to his dispatcher, reporting that everything was fine.

As he hung up, he noticed a suspicious man across the street walking toward him. He walked toward him, and asked him what he was doing out so late. The Chinese man, who appeared to be about 40 years old, mumbled a reply and continued walking past Constable Sargent.

Suddenly, the man drew a .38 calibre semi-automatic pistol and shot the constable in the stomach at point blank range. He fired a second shot, but missed. Despite being wounded, Constable Sargent managed to draw his service revolver and fire all six shots at the suspect as he ran away. He staggered across the street back to the police call box and phoned for help.

A neighbor, who happened to be a doctor, heard the shots and came out to investigate. He helped the wounded officer into his house and administered first aid until the ambulance arrived.

While in hospital, Constable Sargent managed to give a detailed description of the suspect and picked him out of a mug-shot book. He was identified as Leong Chung, a well-known criminal, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Crime scene investigators found evidence of an attempted break-in to a home at 2720 Alder Street the same day as the shooting. There were footprints in the soft dirt underneath a basement window and a small woodpile was knocked over. It appeared Chung had been planning the break-in when something disturbed him.

Surgeons operated on Constable Sargent, but they were unable to stop the bleeding. He died five days later on November 10 at age 25, after only three years on the job.

Chung was arrested several days later in Victoria. He faced trial, but was found not guilty.

The case remains unsolved.

Ernest Sargent: police officer, husband, brother, son.

More Information

British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial