2006-07-06 / Community

20 Years Later,Rockaway Remembers PO Scott Gadell

Shooting Of Young Cop Changed The Way NYPD Used Firearms
By Howard Schwach

Above: The Saturday, July 5, 1986 Wave reported the murder of Police Officer Scott Gadell on the front page. The photographs accompanying the story were taken by The Wave's now Publisher Susan Locke. At right: The Wave ran this wanted poster for Robert Roulston for several weeks. Above: The Saturday, July 5, 1986 Wave reported the murder of Police Officer Scott Gadell on the front page. The photographs accompanying the story were taken by The Wave's now Publisher Susan Locke. At right: The Wave ran this wanted poster for Robert Roulston for several weeks. It was on July 1 twenty years ago and Police Officers Scott Gadell and James Connelly were on patrol in the "Boy Sector" of the 101 Precinct when a man waved them over at Beach 22 Street and Seagirt Boulevard.

The man, later identified at Gerald Gunter, told the two officers that a man with a gun was chasing him. He said that the man, who had been visiting his sister at their Deerfield Avenue home, and he had an argument and the man pulled a gun and fired two shots at him.

The two cops put Gunter in their car and began looking for the suspect, later identified as Robert Roulston, AKAErrol Campbell, Darby and Ro Ro. At one point they saw the suspect and chased him, but lost him in the tangle of bungalows and rooming houses between Seagirt Boulevard and the beach.

At about 2:45 p.m., however, they saw Roulston outside of a rooming house at 30-15 Seagirt Boulevard.

The two cops jumped from their car, guns drawn and chased the man, who opened fire with his 9 millimeter automatic when he saw the two cops.

The July 5, 1986 edition of The Wave reported that Gadell went around the building in one direction while Connelly went around in the other.

That edition reported that Roulston fired nine shots from his automatic while Gadell fired all six of the bullets in his standard .38 caliber police revolver.

While reloading his revolver, Gadell was shot in the head by Roulston and his superior firepower.

Connelly rushed his bleeding partner to the Peninsula Hospital Center, where the young, rookie cop was declared dead at 6:17 p.m.

Gadell's death touched off a massive police response, but the shooter was long gone.

About two weeks later, there was a report that Roulston was holed up in an apartment at 14-24 Gateway Boulevard and there was again a massive police response to the report. It turned out that Roulston was gone when the police got there.

Above: The killer's capture was printed inside The Wave in its August 23 issue. At right: On July 26, The Wave ran this story about the search for the cop-killer. Above: The killer's capture was printed inside The Wave in its August 23 issue. At right: On July 26, The Wave ran this story about the search for the cop-killer. On August 18, following another tip, police staked out a Brooklyn apartment building. When they saw the window in the apartment that Roulston was reportedly using lifted, police stormed the apartment and captured the suspect without a fight as he fled down a rear fire escape, although he reportedly had a .45 caliber automatic pistol in his waistband at the time of arrest.

Police said at the time that the man identified as Roulston was instead Errol Campbell, who had been arrested and indicted in 1985 for a drug-related murder in which the body was dumped on the beach.

Campbell was out on bail and his next court hearing on that murder was scheduled for that September. He reportedly made a confession and Wave reports at the time said that "he was crying like a baby" at the time of his arrest.

Wave reports said that Campbell was moved from place to place by his friends and that he had stayed at cheap hotels in the Bronx, Jamaica and Rockaway during his run from police.

Shortly after Gadell's death, the New York City Police Department began testing speed loaders, a device that allowed a cop to load six bullets with one quick movement, reducing the time it took to reload.

After much discussion and controversy, the NYPD moved to 9 millimeter automatic pistols sometime later on.

The street alongside the 101 Precinct House was renamed Scott Gadell Place in the young cop's honor.

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