On February 23, 1971, seven detectives of the Vice Division, Narcotics Section, raided an apartment in the 6100 block of Waterman. Officers planned the raid after an informant bought LSD at that location from an unidentified man. The informant told the detectives that a "dope party" was planned in the apartment that evening.
As the detectives watched the apartment, four males in hippie attire approached and knocked on the apartment door. As a curtain was pulled aside, a voice said, "Oh, okay, just a minute." The door opened. Detective Melvin Wilmoth walked up to the group and through the door with them. Once inside, Wilmoth held up his badge and shouted, "Police Officers."
A man, later identified as Dennis McMahan, a drifter and sometimes drug dealer, was seated on the sofa just inside the apartmentdoor. When Detective Wilmoth identified himself, McMahan shot him with a .22 caliber rifle.
Wilmoth, though fatally wounded in the lower abdomen, drew his revolver and shot McMahan three times, once in the chest and twice in the legs. Both Wilmoth and McMahan died later that evening during surgery.
Detective Wilmoth had joined the force in March 1964, after having been a file clerk in the Personnel Division. As a rookie, he captured an escaping prisoner at the Municipal Courts Building. He later joined the Mobile Reserve Unit. A dedicated police officer, he was once stabbed while trying to thwart a robbery while off-duty.
He also served in the Special Operative Deployment Division (SODD). When shot, he was detached from SODD and enrolled in a six week course of work in the Narcotics Training program. He had been in the course only one week at the time of his death. During his short career, Detective Wilmoth received three Letters of Commendation and was respected and admired by all who knew him. The twenty-eight year-old Wilmoth left a wife and two sons, four year-old Melvin, Jr., and two year-old Mark.