On May 17, 1919, Deputy Thomas Fay was off duty when he and his wife of seventeen days were driving their truck at the intersection of Highway 80 and Lookout Avenue (now El Cajon Boulevard and La Mesa Boulevard). Deputy Fay noticed an argument between two men, Al Miller and Dr. Lewis Gilman, D.D.S., near the Gilman residence. Miller’s wife Rose, his sister, Mrs. J.A. Parks, and Gilman’s wife were standing nearby.


Deputy Fay stopped to investigate the nature of the disturbance. He soon learned that at issue was the shooting of a rabbit by Miller. Miller used a shotgun, loaded with birdshot, to shoot the rabbit. Gilman thought that Miller had shot at him. He became enraged, voicing obscene and vulgar language, and demanded that Deputy Fay arrest Miller. Miller explained the true nature of his actions and threatened to have Gilman arrested for disturbing the peace.


During his investigation, Deputy Fay accompanied Gilman to his residence to inspect for any damage that may have been caused by Miller’s shots. Deputy Fay and Mrs. Gilman remained on the porch as Gilman entered the residence. Mrs. Gilman began a verbal tirade, denouncing and abusing Deputy Fay. Shortly thereafter, Gilman appeared at the door, armed with an automatic pistol. Without warning, Gilman shot Deputy Fay, killing him instantly. Gilman fired additional shots at Rose Miller and Mrs. Parks. Neither woman was injured and Mrs. Parks engaged in a life and death struggle with Gilman. Al Miller came to her aid and, after a fierce fight, used a cobblestone to bludgeon Gilman. Telephone calls were placed for assistance and Deputy Goset responded to the scene and arrested Gilman. Gilman was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.


In addition to his wife, Deputy Fay was survived by two children from a previous marriage.