Patrolman Charles E. Cadorette #9
During the early morning hours of September 11, 1967, at 3:18 a.m., tragedy struck the Town of Ashland. Patrolman Charles E. Cadorette, age 38, a 1-year veteran and father of 4 children was gunned down and his partner Patrolman Robert Gonfrade, age 26 was seriously wounded by gunfire at an area called Workmen's Circle, a field adjacent to Cedar Street. This area is now the current developed site of Captain Eames Circle.
The officers unknowingly stopped a suspicious motor vehicle that turned out to be stolen. The stolen vehicle was being followed by a second vehicle being operated by a female. The driver of the first vehicle, Bernard Perkins, age 21 was armed with a fully loaded semi-automatic 9-millimeter handgun.
During the initial stop, Officer Charles Cadorette approached Perkins in the first vehicle as Patrolman Robert Gonfrade approached a female in the second vehicle. Patrolman Cadorette was initially disarmed at gun point and was held hostage by the armed man who was also using him as a shield. Patrolman Charles Cadorette turned and attempted to disarm the subject holding him hostage. The gunman fired point blank and a bullet fatally struck Officer Cadorette in the chest and he fell to the ground. The gunman then immediately fired at Patrolman Robert Gonfrade and he was quickly struck twice by bullets. Although seriously wounded, Patrolman Gonfrade managed to returned fire and strike Perkins.
Patrolman Gonfrade was unable to move from his position due to the extent of his injuries and could not get to the cruiser radio for help. He directed the female to check on her acquaintance, Perkins. At this time, he was unsure if the threat of the gunman was over. After learning that the gunman appeared to be dead, he directed the female to call on the cruiser radio for help. The female had difficulty calling for help. Patrolman Gonfrade managed to drag himself 20 feet to the cruiser and radio for assistance. Note: In 1967, Officer Cadorette and Officer Gonfrade were the only Ashland Police officers on duty that night and they were both shot. Framingham Police officers and officers from surrounding towns converged on the desolate area in search of the fallen officers. After some time, they finally located Workman's Circle and Patrolman Robert Gonfrade was rushed to Framingham Union Hospital for emergency surgery. Patrolman Cadorette and the gunman were pronounced dead on arrival.
Charles Cadorette was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery. Hundreds of police officers came to his funeral along with residents of the Town of Ashland. He left his wife Claire and his 4 children, Sherylann, 10, Paul, 7, Charles Jr, 5 and Diane, 4. These are the ages of the children at the time of his death.
Patrolman Charles Cadorette served the Town of Ashland with distinction and honor for the 4 short years (3 years part-time, 1 year full-time) that he was an Ashland Police Officer prior to his death. His name has been placed on the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall located in Judiciary Square in Washington D.C., along with the other thousands of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty from across this country. His name appears on Panel W-12 of the Memorial Wall. Charlie's badge number 9 has been forever retired. September 11, 1997 was the 30th anniversary of his death.
An imprint of an Ashland Police Badge, number 9 is inscribed on a memorial stone that sat at the front of the Ashland Police Station on Main Street that was completed in 1978 and was dedicated in memory of Patrolman Charles Cadorette. The memorial stone is now in front the the Public Safety Building on Union Street.
Patrolman Robert Gonfrade recovered from his wounds and worked his way up through the ranks. He became Police Chief in 1973 and served in that capacity with distinction until he retired in 1994. He is currently enjoying his much deserved retirement.
Charlie's death serves as a constant reminder to the members of the Ashland Police Department, that police work can turn deadly at any time-without warning.
The Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC, is located in Judiciary Square where the names of thousands of police officers who were killed in the line of duty are etched in stone. May 15 is Police Officers Memorial Day when flags will be at half staff in recognition of the deaths of law enforcement officers in the United States. On this date we reflect upon those police officers who gave their lives while serving their communities.