Police place plaque where officers were killed; city hopes to memorialize others

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 5:12 p.m. MDT

Family members of fallen Salt Lake City police officers Wiliam N. Huntsman and Brigham H. Honey Jr. unveil a plaque at 337 S. Main in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Both officers were killed in a gun battle after responding to a robbery at the former State Cafe at 46 W. Broadway on February 16, 1924.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Officers Brigham H. Honey and William N. Huntsman have always been connected with each other.

They served in the Salt Lake City Police Department together in 1924. They were both shot down and killed in the line of duty and later buried within feet of each other at the Salt Lake Cemetery. And on Tuesday, they were remembered and honored together with a memorial plaque.

With great-grandsons and granddaughters and great-great-grandsons and granddaughters present, the city unveiled what it hopes will be the first of many memorial plaques individually honoring Salt Lake City officers killed in the line of duty.

"I think it's great. I think it's wonderful," said Tim Jackson, Honey's great-grandson.

A bronze plaque was unveiled on the side of the Judge Building, at Broadway and Main Street, Tuesday where Honey and Huntsman were gunned down.

"There aren't many jobs where someone goes to work and they don't know if they're coming home," Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker said in dedicating the memorial. "I think sometimes we take for granted the secure community we live in."

On Feb. 16, 1924, a man and a woman had come into town and needed money. The man went about 11:30 p.m. into the State Cafe, 46 W. Broadway (300 South), and attempted to rob the clerk at gunpoint.

Instead, the store employee and the man exchanged gunshots. Two nearby police officers, Honey and Huntsman, heard the shots and responded to the area. The officers confronted the man and woman at 337 S. Main and exchanged shots with the man.

Both officers were struck. Huntsman, 26, died immediately. Honey, 34, died a few hours later. Both were survived by a wife and two children.

After the officers were shot, the man ran into a nearby ally with the woman, shot her in the face and then turned the gun on himself. The woman survived. The man did not.

"It was probably the bloodiest day in Salt Lake police history," said Robert Kirby, historian for the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial.

"There is a price to be paid in order for us to enjoy our freedoms today," Kirby told the group present Tuesday on the sidewalk at the spot where the officers were shot.

Jackson said his father told him what had happened to his great-grandfather. His family still goes to the cemetery where Honey is buried at least once a month to make sure his gravesite is maintained.

"It's a real tribute," Gary M. Huntsman, a cousin of William Huntsman, said of the memorial.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is related to the officer who was killed.

The historical address where the officers were shot was 337 S. Main. Today, however, that address is actually closer to 317 S. Main, which is where the plaque is located.

Burbank hopes other plaques can be placed around the city to mark where officers were killed. But two of the biggest obstacles are money and having access to the areas to place a plaque.

The plaques cost $2,500 each. Citizens can sponsor a memorial plaque. Burbank said he didn't know when another plaque would be dedicated or what officer would be memorialized next.

The challenges of placing plaques for some officers are due to the area where they were killed. One officer was killed on I-80. Another was considered killed in the line of duty while serving as a Marine reservist in Iraq.

A total of 24 Salt Lake police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1858.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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