Around 1:00 a.m. on October 25, 1990, Officer Richard Wagner chased on foot a suspected auto thief who had bailed from a car at the intersection of N. 15th Street and W. Columbia Street. The suspect eluded Officer Wagner and when he returned to his squad car, Officer Wagner collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital and despite tremendous effort, doctors could not revive him. Officer Wagner died of a heart attack.
Officer Wagner was to receive a meritorious duty citation on November 18th, for pulling a wounded officer from the line of fire during a shootout the previous May. Police Chief Philip Arreola gave the award posthumously.
Officer Wagner was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department on November 19, 1973. He was 41-years-old when he died and was survived by his wife Donna, two sons ages 13 and 15, and a 9-year-old daughter.