On November 19, 1976, Cypress Police Officers were dispatched to an alarm call at the Pomeroy Medical Clinic, located at 5651 Lincoln Avenue. Sergeant Donald Sowma was the shift supervisor that night, and responded to the call, along with other patrol officers. Officers searched the medical offices and found no suspects inside. Officers then began a search of an adjoining building; an art gallery. As the door leading into the art gallery was opened, officers heard noises coming from inside. As Sergeant Sowma stepped into the doorway, he was shot once in the chest by the suspect, Bobby Joe Denny, who had been hiding inside. As officers attempted to rescue Sergeant Sowma, the suspect fired a second round at them. Officers found another access into the art gallery and used that entry to remove Sergeant Sowma from the art gallery. Sergeant Sowma was transported to La Palma Hospital, and later, succumbed to his injuries, caused by the .38 caliber bullet that entered his chest. The suspect was later removed from the business by a tactical entry team and was arrested for the murder of Sergeant Donald Sowma.
Sergeant Donald Sowma was an individual who could be counted on during any circumstance. His colleagues remember him as a, “Great friend, peace officer and supervisor.” Sergeant Sowma was 44 years of age at the time of his tragic death and left behind a wife and four children.
On Friday, November 18, 2011, Cypress Police Chief Jackie Gomez-Whiteley, members of the Cypress Police Department, and others, gathered this morning to mark the 35th anniversary of this tragedy. This somber gathering took place at the Cypress Police Officers Memorial, located at the front of the Cypress Police Department. All that were present were reminded of Sergeant Sowma’s dedication to the community he served and the ultimate sacrifice he paid for his courage and devotion to the law enforcement profession. We vow to ‘never forget’ him and always keep Sergeant Donald Sowma in our memory.
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