Longtime Menlo Park police detective Larry Shannon dies at 67

Larry Shannon investigated homicides, arrested Chowchilla kidnapper

Larry Shannon, who arrested one of the Chowchilla kidnappers, was involved in shooting incidents, and investigated homicides as a detective during a 29-year career with the Menlo Park Police Department, died March 26 in Auburn, California, at age 67.

A service was held for Sgt. Shannon on April 4 at Sierra Foothills Funeral Services in Auburn. His ex-wife Marilyn Shannon did not give the cause of his death but said he wasn't in good health. He had two daughters, two granddaughters and two brothers, she said.

Larry Shannon, 2003. (Photo courtesy of Robert Wood.)
Sgt. Shannon was on the Menlo Park police force from 1972 to 2001, retiring as a detective sergeant. Sixteen of those years were as a detective, supervising detective or on the county's narcotics task force, the department said. He also worked undercover.

In 1976, Officer Shannon nabbed one of the Chowchilla kidnappers, according to Burke Bruttig, an officer who served with Mr. Shannon. Three young men from Atherton and Portola Valley had kidnapped a bus full of children in Chowchilla and had attempted to bury them alive at a quarry near Livermore, holding them for a $5 million ransom. Ultimately the children and the bus driver escaped. As one of the kidnappers, James Schoenfeld, was returning to Atherton, the car passed through Menlo Park, and Officer Shannon with another officer apprehended the driver, Mr. Bruttig said.

Mr. Bruttig told about another Officer Shannon police exploit: While attempting to arrest a suspect who had stabbed another officer in the arm, Officer Shannon narrowly avoided being stabbed in the heart by falling backward onto the ground. Officer Shannon then drew his gun and shot the approaching man.

"According to Larry, the suspect stopped in his tracks, bleeding profusely, and said to officer Shannon, "Nice shot!" – and collapsed," Mr. Bruttig said.

The suspect survived and ultimately went to prison after a trial, Mr. Bruttig said.

Sgt. Shannon was well-liked by his colleagues and provided "exceptional" public safety service, both in patrol and detective work, according to Mr. Bruttig.

He was the lead negotiator for the police management association in talks with the city of Menlo Park on salary and benefits for police managers.

"He was a good and dedicated officer, held everyone to (a) high standard, and everyone remembers his great sense of humor," said Jeff Keegan, who worked with Sgt. Shannon for 10 years.

"Larry was a really interesting creature," said Wally Joseph, a longtime friend whose children attended Oak Knoll School with Mr. Shannon's.

"While everybody else was arresting somebody or interrogating people, he'd take a guy out, buy him a steak, and (the guy) would tell him everything he needed to know," Mr. Joseph said. "He didn't discriminate at all between old, young, smart or dumb. He talked the same to everybody."

The two men became scuba diving buddies, he said. They received their diving certificates at the same time and would go diving in Monterey.

"Larry's had every hobby in the book," Mr. Joseph said, including fishing, crossbow hunting and taxidermy. He also liked to play golf.

About 10 former members of the Menlo Park Police Department have retired to the Placer County area, said Mr. Bruttig, and they still meet up about quarterly for breakfast or lunch.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Mr. Wally Joseph attended school at Oak Knoll with Mr. Shannon. It has been revised to say that their children went to the school together.

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2 people like this
Posted by Mary Wheeler George
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Larry was a wonderful person and a real treasure for Menlo Park. My children attended Oak Knoll School with Marilyn and Larry's children and I loved hearing the stories about his many hobbies--such as scuba diving for abalone with Huey Lewis.

I always felt safer while living in Menlo Park knowing Larry was on duty. The world could use more Larrys out there.

Like this comment
Posted by Philip Russell
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I knew Larry since our fathers were stationed at Fort Knox together.We were close friends and I lost touch with him when my own health challenges incapcitated me.We kept in touch by phone,he loved Mrylyn and his daughters very much. He never really did well after the divorce. All Larry wanted to do was be a cop and he was a classic Mick cop. I will miss him

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