End of Watch: Amos Cross

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Officer Amos Cross

Pensacola Police Department, Florida

End of Watch Friday, September 12, 1980

On this day in 1980, the Pensacola Police Department lost one of its best officers.

A model of a man. That was how Amos Cross was described. Quiet, polite, and calm were some of his attributes. He wanted to be a police officer to help others make their lives better.

A native of Adel, Georgia, Amos had spent 20 years in the United States Air Force as a police security supervisor for the Strategic Air Command. When he retired, he, his wife Margaret and three sons moved to Pensacola.

After enrolling in the police academy, others learned that he was also very intelligent and studious. Not only did he score very high on his grades, but he helped others in the class who struggled. When graduation time came, Amos graduated first in his class. Immediately after graduation, he joined the Pensacola Police Department. As a Police Officer, he proved himself from the beginning. In less than a year on the force, he was put to the test on February 20, 1980, at a hotel room that had just been purposely set on fire. The question “will the rookie perform or choke?” was answered when Amos promptly jumped in and fought the blaze, putting it out in a matter of minutes. Then, 99 days later, on May 29, 1980, Amos was confronted with a difficult decision. A man armed with a butcher knife approached another officer with a butcher knife to stab him. Amos could have legally shot the man but chose instead to talk him into a surrender.  Amos was a true hero. And he was popular on his beat. He was well-liked by the other officers as well as the citizens in the area his worked. They knew him to be a good, honest man. 

Amos Cross knew Peter Todd well. He had been called to Peter’s home quite a few times when he and his father were arguing. He had spoken with him before and calmed him down several times. Amos had a calming effect. He was like that. So, on Friday, September 12, he wasn’t too worried when, at 7 PM, he was called to 610 N. “D” Street, the home of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Todd and their son, Peter. After all, he had been there several times in the past few weeks. Besides, Peter, Amos was familiar with Mr. and Mrs. Todd.  In less than a minute, Officer Cross, 39, arrived at their home. The home was located between Jackson and Gadsden Streets, across from the Antioch Baptist church. On this evening, choir practice was in session at the church, and 50 children were in attendance. 

Amos expected to calm the family down once again, as he had done in the past. Little did he know that Peter Todd was standing inside the front door with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun pointed at Amos. As the Officer approached the front door, Peter fired the shotgun, striking Amos in the face and killing him instantly. Todd then fled on foot, jumping the fence and heading for the church, shotgun in hand. Officer Gary Cutler, who was a young and fairly new officer, had arrived just as Amos was approaching the door. He witnessed the tragic event. As Todd fled, Cutler pursued, and caught up to him. The two exchanged gunfire. Todd, struck in the head, dropped the shotgun when he fell. Officer Cutler, who had also been shot and wounded, took Todd into custody. A search of the residence located Peter’s father, B. J. Todd, whose lifeless body was lying in the back yard from a shotgun wound. 

Funeral services for Amos were held on Tuesday, September 16, 1980, at the Chapel on Corry Naval Station. The honor guard was provided by members of the Pensacola Police Department. For members of the police department, it had been 77 short days since the death of another officer, Curtis Jones, and the wounds were still fresh. The funeral procession to the burial site at Barrancas National Cemetery stretched for a mile, mostly due to police cars from numerous departments. They had come to show their respect for a true hero.

Amos Cross

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