In 1943, the Second World War was in full swing. The draft called upon thousands of men to enter military service for the war effort. This left the work forces of many industries short handed. Local law enforcement agencies were not exempt and many police officers were called upon to go to war. In an effort to fill the many vacancies, the Oakland Police Department hired many to the position of temporary police patrolman, or "emergency patrolman". They were also known as "duration" officers, the idea being they would serve with OPD through the duration of the war (the first african-american policemen at OPD were hired through this process). In June of 1943, Wallace John Muscovich was hired by OPD as a duration officer.
On April 17th, 1944 a 19 year old from Berkeley, Frank Jersey, entered a clothing store at Tenth and Franklin streets with robbery as his intent. His attempt was met with resistance, at which point he twice fired his handgun, striking the store owner. Muscovich, who was off duty and in the area, heard the gunshots. He saw Jersey flee from the store where he was joined by a female companion. They ran southbound on Franklin. The Oakland Tribune wrote: "The officer commandeered a passing car, leaped on the running board and gave chase." The girl disappeared somewhere on Ninth Street, and Muscovich followed Jersey into a hotel at 472 Eighth Street, near Washington Street. They met on the second floor where gunshots rang out. When the smoke cleared, Jersey had managed to hit Muscovich twice, while Muscovich felled the young robber with three shots that proved fatal.
Muscovich was rushed to Merritt Hospital where he received treatment over the next several days, including many fellow officers giving blood for transfusions. The treatments proved futile, as Wallace Muscovich died on April 24th from his injuries. It is important to read this Oakland tribune editorial about the incident, which is a validation of the bravery exhibited by the peace officers who daily risk their lives in the community’s service.
We were able to determine Muscovich was interred at Mountain View Cemetery. After obtaining his location, we found that he is without a grave marker (photo below). Your donations will ensure Oakland Police duration officer Wallace John Muscovich has a grave marker to honor the heroism he displayed in the incident that took his life.