As a Burbank Police Officers’ Association tradition, a wreath was placed at The Guardians statue to honor their fallen heroes on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, outside at the statue. The laying of the wreaths was presented by the Burbank Police Honor Guard.
Wednesday marks the anniversary of the Burbank Police Department’s Fallen Officer Matthew Pavelka, End of Watch, November 15, 2003. Matthew Pavelka was appointed as an officer for the City of Burbank on August 5, 2002.
Burbank Police had not lost an officer in the line of duty by gunfire for more than eighty-three years. On the evening of November 15, 2003, that all changed. Veteran Officer Gregory Campbell had stopped a vehicle, without license plates, containing two males. The area where the stop was made was well known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity, so Campbell wisely called for backup.
The first officer to respond was 26-year old Mathew Pavelka, who had been in the field as a police officer for just ten months. When Campbell and Pavelka approached the suspect vehicle and ordered the two male subjects to exit the vehicle, they both alighted firing automatic weapons. Both Campbell and Pavelka were wounded several times, but in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the officers mortally wounded one of the gunmen. The other suspect escaped on foot.
Both of the wounded officers were transported to a local hospital, where Officer Pavelka died during surgery and Officer Campbell was treated and remained in critical but stable condition.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003, the suspect who fled was taken into custody.
Matthew Pavelka was remembered by more than one of his fellow officers as a charming, light-hearted 26-year-old, with a crown of spiky orange hair, who loved being a cop.
Thursday also marks the anniversary of BPD Fallen Deputy City Marshall Luther Colson, End of Watch, November 16, 1914. Luther Colson was appointed as a City Marshal for the City of Burbank on February 21, 1914.
Colson was on duty November 16, 1914, approximately 7:00 p.m., when he was walking the tracks in the area of the “Y” – a quarter mile north of town. Some suspects started shooting at him from the Willows. One bullet struck him in the stomach. Colson returned their fire from his own weapon, and after several shots, the suspects fled into the darkness.
Colson started to return to town but collapsed, and some citizens transported him to Burbank Hospital for treatment.
The Marshal of Tropico (a small community located at Los Feliz and San Fernando Boulevard, now part of Glendale), with twenty-five deputies, immediately started a manhunt. On November 18, 1914, three suspects were apprehended. One suspect had a weapon on him which was the same caliber that was used in wounding Marshal Colson. After a lengthy interrogation, all the suspects confessed to the shooting.
The Burbank Police Department will always honor Burbank’s heroes for their service and ultimate sacrifice they made to secure our safety.