Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 13 years, 5 months, 1 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Bureau (DB)
District of Incident (Present Day): 009 - Deering
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 16 Dec 1887
Date of Appointment: 02 Mar 1907
Date of Incident: 009 - Deering
End of Watch: 03 Aug 1920
Date of Interment: 06 Aug 1920
Cemetery: Mount Carmel Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 23
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 1
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 13-W: 17
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Sergeant Frank J. McGurk, Star #557, aged 32 years, was a 13 year, 5 month, 1 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Bureau.
On August 3, 1920, at 3:00 p.m., Detective Sergeant McGurk was filling in for Acting Lieutenant William Freeman guarding the payroll of the Illinois Vinegar Manufacturing Company, located at 4800 South Oakley Avenue. Lieutenant Freeman regularly guarded the company’s payroll during its dispersal, but was unable to do it this evening. Freeman’s rent was recently raised and he was out looking for a new apartment. He had called the Detective Bureau to see if anyone wanted to take his place. McGurk volunteered to replace him as his partner and his partner Detective Patrick Mulvihill was on furlough and his case load in the Court of Domestic Relations was low.
Detective Sergeant McGurk accompanied Oscar Spielman, a messenger from the company’s general offices on West 19th Street, with the $5,000.00 payroll. While the payroll was being dispersed, three men were sawing through iron bars that were protecting a rear window in the basement. They extracted the bolts and removed the entire iron-grating frame in order to have a means of ingress and egress to the building. Detective Sergeant McGurk was standing near the payroll window when three men emerged from a stairway that led to the basement. The cashier, J. T. Schroeder had dispersed about half of the payroll when the three men approached. The men were dressed as workmen, wearing overalls, in an attempt to disguise their true intentions. At this point McGurk observed the men approaching the cage while pulling out handkerchiefs to mask their faces. McGurk shouted, “These fellows aren’t working here,” at the same time the men drew their weapons. The leader ordered McGurk to put his hands up and instead McGurk attempted to draw his revolver when the three men opened fire. McGurk was hit and knocked down by the force of the bullets. McGurk was hit in his chest, right arm and left wrist. He managed to return fire before his trigger finger went numb. He was able to wound one of the gunmen causing him to grip his side. At this point the two other gunmen dragged their wounded companion, supporting him on either side, fleeing to an awaiting auto at 49th Street and Western Avenue without taking any proceeds.
As McGurk was carried to an ambulance he asked for someone to take care of his papers and gun. He was then rushed to St. Anthony’s Hospital where he later succumbed to his wounds the same day. While at the hospital he turned to Captain Michael of the Brighton Park Station and said, “I’m sure I hit one of those boys.”
After the shooting, witnesses were able to identify the gunmen from photo books at the Detective Bureau. One of the men, shot by McGurk, was identified as “Mike” Norton and escaped convict from the Joliet prison a month prior. The other two were identified as James Gallagher and “Leggy” Ellickson. Gallagher was wanted for a previous robbery of the Commercial and Savings Bank in which a citizen was killed and policemen injured. Ellickson was an ex-convict who had served several sentences for robbery. In the wake of the shooting several men were arrested in connection with the shooting. Investigators were convinced that an employee of the company, John Halyko, was involved in the holdup plans. He was seen talking to a, “round, red faced man” who was the driver of the getaway car just before the robbery attempt.
On August 9, 1920, Lieutenant Michael Hughes arrested James Moriarty of 2300 West 48th Place and John Halyko of 2423 West 46th Street. General Superintendent John J. Garrity questioned them. On August 10, 1920, Daniel Valo was arrested. On August 13, 1920, Judge Hazen discharged Valo’s case for want of prosecution. On August 30, 1920, James Ryan was arrested and indicted. One of the suspects, unknown, was apprehended three weeks later in Chicago as he and two others attempted to rob a stockyard packer. On November 1, 1920, James Moriarty and James Ryan cases were stricken off the record by Judge Sullivan.
It was eventually learned the true identity of McGurk’s murderer; Stanley Galus fired the fatal shot that ended his life. Galus had illegally enlisted in the Canadian Army under an assumed name in an effort to avoid apprehension for the murder. His deception failed him and Canadian officials sent him back to the United States. Investigators tracked him down to Fort Omaha, Nebraska and had him extradited back to Chicago to stand trial on September 23, 1920. On October 13, 1920, Galus was indicted. On January 8, 1921, Galus was sentenced to life in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge McDonald.
Detective Sergeant McGurk was waked at his residence located at 107 North Karlov Avenue. He was laid to rest on August 6, 1920 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois.
Detective Sergeant Frank J. McGurk, born December 16, 1887, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on March 2, 1907. He earned 2 Credible Mentions during his career. On February 13, 1914, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Class Detective Sergeant, his title being officially changed by order of the city council on January 11, 1915. Detective Sergeant McGurk was highly praised by Superintendent Garrity for his work in the race riots the previous year, during which he was wounded. It was also largely through his efforts that Lloyd Bopp was arrested for the murder of Oak Park Policeman Herman Malow. Bopp was later convicted and executed.
Detective Sergeant McGurk was survived by his second wife, Loretta (nee Ringroso) and two children from his first marriage.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #4591.