Late in 1999, state and federal meat inspectors found the Santos Linquisa Sausage Factory located in a simple one story gray building the Bay area residential community of San Leandro, CA had some real problems.

memorial-plaques-featured.jpgSausage was undercooked, meaning the public was at risk from deadly pathogens and consumers were being fooled by faulty expiration dates going on the product.

Rather than correct the problems, the owner closed the plant in January.  Shortly after the plant resumed production, the meat inspectors returned to the sausage factory.   It was ten years ago today on June 21, 2000.

Thomas Quadpos and Jean Hillery from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and Bill Shaline and Earl Willis from the State of California made up the four-member inspection team.

At trial, the Alameda County prosecuting attorney would say that Quadpos, Hillery, and Shaline, who were all killed in the line of duty that day, were “mowed down.”   Nothing, however, would say it better than the sausage factory’s own security video.

In that video shown to the jury, the sausage company’s owner was clearly showed loading three semiautomatic handguns, gunning down the three agents, chasing Earl Willis who was trailing behind and heard the shots, and then returning to the factory where he put three more shots into the brains of the dead agents.  He got off five shots at Willis, but missed.

Testimony at trial indicated the shooter was egged on by his 25-year old secretary Brooke Nakagawa, a one-time model.

Today and tomorrow, in Washington, D.C. and in California people will remember the three who died at Santos Linquisa.  A Ceremony of Remembrance will begin at 7:30 a.m. on the corner of 14th and Jefferson Streets, NW in Washington, D.C. with the distribution of commemorative ribbons.

Remarks will get underway at 9 a.m. on the northwest corner of the Whitten Building where the Linden Basswood Tree was previously dedicated to those who lost their lives.

Tuesday’s event will be at the Memorial Rose Garden at the FSIS District Office in Alameda.

“It’s said that time heals wounds, but this is a pain that continues to ache in the hearts of our employees 10 years later,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza, who also worked at USDA at the time. “We can’t ever forget what happened, and we will never forget these heroes.”

memorial-photo-featured.jpgGuilty in the murders of FSIS Compliance Officers Hillery and Quadros along with California Department of Food and Agriculture Senior Special Investigator Shaline and the attempted murder of Willis was 39-year old Stuart Alexander, who owned the sausage factory.

He was found guilty of the murders and the attempted murder, and was sentenced to death.   He cheated the hangman, or in California’s case whoever pushes the needle, by dying of a pulmonary embolism while awaiting execution at San Quentin prison on Dec. 27, 2005.

At the time of the shootings, Quadros was 52, Hillery was 56, Shaline was 57, and Willis was 51.

Today more than 7,800 people work at FSIS to keep the nation’s meat and poultry safe.  The agency maintains a memorial page to remind employees and the public of the sacrifice made by Quadros, Hillery, and Shaline.

Images:  FSIS Remembers Those Killed in the Line of Duty.  In remembrance of the service of Jean Hillery, Tom Quadros, Bill Shaline, and Earl Willis, FSIS has planned a number of special events in Beltsville, MD, Washington, DC, and San Leandro, CA, to honor their service.  FSIS Unity Day (May 26, 2010)