More on USPO Thomas Eric Gahl, killed in the line of duty

Thanks to Elaine  Mittleman, a former resident of Indiana and a thoughtful federal criminal defense lawyer and appellate specialist, here is an article and video that was completed 25 years after the USPO was killed. In brief, this is what happened:

On September 22, 1986, United States Probation Officer Thomas E. Gahl was killed in the line of duty in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a Monday morning, not unlike any other Monday morning Tom had experienced in his previous 11 years as a probation officer. That morning, Tom was visiting the home of parolee Michael Wayne Jackson. Tom arrived at the home at approximately 8:15. After not being able to contact Jackson, Tom turned to leave the residence, but Jackson ambushed Tom and shot him three times with a sawed off shotgun. An 11 day manhunt ensued, ending with Jackson taking his own life in Wright City, Missouri.



3 responses

  1. Many thanks, Judge, for your posts regarding my father, Thomas Gahl. Elaine was kind to inform me and my brother about them. The entire Federal system has been so thoughtful and attentive starting from the tragic day in September, 1986 until present. The Southern District of Indiana has especially been welcoming of continued contact, even though most who served with my father have now retired or relocated. Now with children ourselves, my brother and I cherish the extreme honor bestowed on my dad in naming the probation office in his memory. Showing our kids the dedication plague inside the original, beautiful Federal Courthouse is extremely special. My mother still volunteers there weekly.

    As a family, we were pleased to see the change in legislation that allowed probation officers to carry a firearm. While my father viewed his job as more social work than law enforcement, reality requires that certain protections are undertaken. We are grateful that my father’s death has and continues to serve as a catalyst for officer safety. Later this month, my mom will speak at a training conference for federal officers, where her narrative provides context and purpose for the training instruction. The advancements in training coupled with attention to other aspects of the system have made it safer for officers, those they supervise, and society.

    On behalf of the Gahl family, we support your discussion about Jeff (High Intensity), especially recognizing his focus on helping the offender. Thank you for highlighting such a great officer, as well as recognizing my father.

    With deep gratitude,

    Nancy, Chris, and Nick Gahl

  2. Nick and family,

    It is the very least I could do for a father and a family that has suffered so much. I was struck by your statement that your dad “viewed his job as more social work than law enforcement . . . .” From a supervision perspective, I couldn’t agree more. And you are right, Jeff from our district fits that mold exactly.

    In closing, I know from your Mom’s continuing efforts, and the work of your brother and you, that your father lives on in the lives federal probation officers. I thank your family (and your Dad) for your service.

    All the best.


  3. I am so pleased that the Gahl family is being praised for their contributions to the court system and to Indiana. They represent the best traits of Hoosiers – dedication to family and to their community.

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