By: Keith Dameron, Historian – Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial

Corporal Thomas Hanson, 37, was shot and killed about 1:45 a.m. on Saturday, December 29, 1973, when he interrupted an armed robbery at a 7-11 store at Ninth and Grand, in Pueblo. Hanson and his partner, Officer James Askey, stopped at the 7-11 so Cpl. Hanson could buy a carton of milk. Hanson entered the store while Askey remained in the patrol car. Unknown to the officers, a young man, later identified as Bernard Meehan, 19, was hiding behind one of the food shelves in the corner of the store. Officer Askey spotted the suspicious movements of Meehan, as the suspect approached Hanson near the counter. Meehan came up behind Hanson as the officer approached the counter and fired one round as Hanson turned toward him. Askey jumped from the cruiser and fired two rounds at Meehan just seconds after Cpl. Hanson fell to the floor. Meehan then staggered toward the door with his gun still in his hand. He turned toward Askey, was shot again and fell to the floor in front of the magazine display. Cpl. Hanson was rushed to Parkview Episcopal Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m. Meehan arrived at the hospital a few minutes after Hanson was admitted and died three hours later. Deputy Coroner, Dr. John Howe said that the postmortem indicated that Hanson was killed by a .22 caliber bullet that entered a lung, severed a large blood vessel then entered the other lung and lodged in the torso. Pueblo Police spokesman John Ercul said that all three of Askey’s shots struck Meehan. Both store clerks were laying on the floor behind the counter, which they had been told to do, before Cpl. Hanson entered the store.

Investigators determined that another subject was involved and located him about 20 hours after the shooting. He was identified as Charles D. Salazar, 17, who had dropped out of Centennial High School. Salazar was jailed and subsequently indicted for murder in the death of Cpl. Hanson. He was alleged to have been the driver of the “get-away” vehicle during the robbery with Meehan. Bond was set at $50,000 by District Judge Matt Kikel. No further information was found on Salazar’s case.

Thomas Martin Hanson was born September 19, 1936. He grew up in Delta, Colorado where his father, Harold Hanson, servicer on the police force for 18 years, retiring as the Chief of Police. Tom served in the National Guard from May 1953 to June 1959. He worked in Uravan and Montrose before joining the Delta Police Department in November 1962 where he stayed for nearly four years. He then did some machine shop work before joining the Pueblo Police Department on October 25, 1966. Tom was promoted to Corporal on January 12, 1972. He was survived by his wife Karen S. Hanson of Pueblo and five children, Kim Lori, Kirby Leigh and Jamie Jo Hanson, all of Delta; and Thomas Kelly and Zorrin Scott Hanson the of family home in Pueblo; also, by his mother Mrs. Frances G. Hanson of Pueblo and brother James of Delta. Services were held on December 31 at the McCarthy Funeral Home with burial following at Roselawn cemetery. Over 400 people attended, half of which were police officers.

On January 2, Chief Bud Willoughby announced that the departments recently renovated training facility had been named Hanson Hall in memory of Corporal Thomas Martin Hanson. He said that each new officer, and officers undergoing in-service training, will recognize that a fellow officer laid down his life for the people of Pueblo, and that a plaque acknowledging this would be hung in the training academy.

EOW: 29 Dec 1973 
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Pueblo Police Department
Colorado Chieftain - Dec 30, 31, 1973
Delta County Independent-Dec 31, 1973