Police Officer Robert (Bob) Heinle Missoula Police Department Montana End of Watch: Friday, February 12, 2010

Police Officer Robert (Bob) Heinle
Missoula Police Department
Montana
End of Watch: Friday, February 12, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: 47
Tour of Duty: 7 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Wednesday, October 21, 1998
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Sentenced to life

Officer Bob Heinle succumbed to complications from a gunshot wound suffered 11 years earlier.

On October 21, 1998, he had responded to a local bank after receiving reports of a man attempting to cash a forged check. When he arrived at the location he located the man outside and chased him on foot when the man fled. A short distance away the man opened fire, striking Officer Heinle once in the neck.

The wound caused Officer Heinle to become paralyzed from the neck down. He continued to suffer complications from the wound and passed away as a result of those complications on February 12, 2010.

The man who shot Officer Heinle was convicted of several charges after the initial shooting, including attempted murder, and was sentenced to life in prison.

At the time of the shooting, Officer Heinle had served with the Missoula Police Department for seven years. He is survived by his wife.

Agency Contact Information
Missoula Police Department
435 Ryman Street
Missoula, MT 59802

Phone: (406) 552-6300

Please contact the Missoula Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

Former Missoula Police Sgt. Bob Heinle dies of complications from 1998 shooting

Bob Heinle, the Missoula police sergeant paralyzed from the neck down after being gunned down in 1998, died Friday at Community Medical Center. He was 47.

Because he died of complications from his paralysis, Heinle became the third Missoula officer in history to be killed in the line of duty.

News of his death hit the Missoula Police Department hard.

“He gave life a full shot,” said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir, who served with Heinle since they both joined the force in 1991.

Muir, occasionally choking back tears, described his friend and colleague as a tough, resilient man who continued to pursue his passions of hunting and fishing until he died.

He was a natural leader who quickly rose to the rank of sergeant early in his career.

“He was a very admirable figure who stepped up and provided leadership at a very young age in his career,” said Muir.

Then came the 9-1-1 call that changed his life.

Early in the evening on Oct. 21, 1998, Heinle was the first to arrive after a bank teller reported a man trying to cash a forged check.

He gave chase to the suspect, James Martin, aka James Trujillo, shortly after spotting him in near the Western Security Bank on the corner of Orange and Broadway. About a minute later, another officer, responding to the call, found Heinle on the ground of the Salvation Army parking lot bleeding from the neck, and radioed the ominous words “officer down.”

That officer, Leila Haack, performed CPR on Heinle before he was transported to St. Patrick Hospital. James Gene Martin was apprehended 30 minutes later; in May of 1999, he was found guilty of numerous crimes, but none more heinous than attempted murder of a police officer. He is serving a life sentence.

The Heinles moved briefly to the Craig Institute in Engelwood, Colo., which specializes in treating those with severe spinal-cord injuries, but Bob Heinle never regained mobility below the neck.

*****

The Missoula Police Department kept in close contact with Heinle and his wife Lisa over the last dozen years. Lisa Heinle became involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which raises money for and awareness of research into spinal-cord injuries.

Last June, Lisa Heinle ran the Missoula Marathon for her husband and the foundation.

Muir recalled the evening of the shooting. He was eating dinner at home but wearing his police radio when the chase and shooting unfolded.

“I heard it all happen,” said Muir. “And by the time I came back down to the station, he had already been taken to the hospital.”

There are 39 officers – 40 percent of the force – who worked for the Missoula Police Department on Oct. 21, 1998, and are still there.

Heinle’s death is felt deeply in the department.

“It was a huge shock then, and it’s a huge shock and loss to have him gone now,” said Muir.

As for anger at the gunman? Muir said he has “mostly healed in that respect.”

“Jimmy Martin is a man who made many bad choices in his life,” he said. “His ultimate punishment is how he will be remembered.”

Muir only thinks about the friend and colleague now missing from his life, the same man who raised his hand to take the vow to protect and serve on the same day he did.

“I kick myself now to think that I thought I’d have more time to spend with him,” said Muir, his eyes welling up with tears.

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