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Publication Date

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Tom Moriarty

Subject Areas

English literature


This work is a memoir that recalls the story about my father, a Santa Clara Police Officer who was critically shot and paralyzed as a result of an armed robbery gone awry. This shooting took place on November 21, 1964, at the Food Villa Shopping Center in Santa Clara. After the assailant shot my father, he shot four other people, including another police officer. It was the largest shoot-out in Santa Clara, before or since. The story outlines the cultural and personal environments that existed up through the shooting, how my father came to be a police officer, his values and background. A description of the American culture at the time and since WWII complements the cultural and political climate that was in play at the time of the shooting. The story then follows my dad’s risk of dying and his subsequent recovery, how he overcame this tragedy and found a means to carry on as a father, husband, and contributor to society. Throughout the book, I integrate my own responses to this violent event that dramatically affected our family, our schooling, how all six kids related to a disabled father; and how my father’s navigation affected our own decisions, our own narratives. The book concludes with a 2014 memorial event that put closure to the incident for a lot of people, many of them emotionally wounded for 50 years. I then describe my dad’s legacy, in terms of the social justice and police projects that I initiated and continue to execute, all an extension of my father’s willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, through service.

Available for download on Monday, March 20, 2028