Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 14 years, 4 months, 23 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Division (DD)
District of Incident (Present Day): 008 - Chicago Lawn
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death:
Date of Birth: 17 Mar 1878
Date of Appointment: 30 Oct 1906
Date of Incident: 008 - Chicago Lawn
End of Watch: 23 Mar 1921
Date of Interment: 13 Apr 1921
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 # 14
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 4
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 6-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Sergeant Patrick Joseph O’Neill, Star #2963, aged 42 years, was a 14 year, 4 month, 23 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Bureau.
On March 23, 1921, at 10:00 p.m., Detective Sergeant O’Neill was on duty and in charge of a squad of five Detective Sergeants, William Carter, Edward Halpin, Tom McShane, William Penn and Joseph Ronan. Acting on a tip they went to an apartment building located at 6415 South Washtenaw Avenue. They had a tip that they could find Thomas “Terrible Tommy” O’Connor who was wanted on a bond forfeiture warrant for the murder of his friend Jimmy Cherin, at the home of William Foley. Cherin’s body had been found over a year earlier in an abandoned auto at 79th Street and State Road in Stickney, Illinois. Foley was O’Connor’s brother-in-law who also owned the building. When the detectives arrived they surrounded the building as they prepared to ask Foley if O’Connor was in the residence. Sergeant O’Neill was stationed in the rear of the building as one of the other detective sergeants knocked on the front door. William Foley and O’Connor’s sister answered the door allowing O’Connor to slip out the back. Seconds after the knock, O’Connor emerged from the back door and onto the porch in an attempt to escape. Seeing O’Neill waiting for him just below at ground level, O’Connor said, “You dirty shit, I am going to get you anyway. You’ve hounded me long enough,” and opened fire. Sergeant O’Neill suffered five gunshot wounds and collapsed to the ground, as his colleagues looked in horror unable to help. They rushed over to aid O’Neill as O’Connor slipped away making good his escape. O’Neill was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. on March 23, 1921.
O’Connor fled the scene and flagged down a checker cab at 63rd and Western Avenue. He then drove an indirect route to 63rd Street and Campbell Avenue where he jumped on the running board of an auto driven by W. R. Condon who resided at the Drexel Arms Hotel accompanied by his wife. He ordered the Condon’s to drive him West on 63rd Street at gunpoint. At 63rd Street and 72nd Avenue he forced Mrs. Condon out of the car. He then ordered Mr. Condon to drive northbound on 72nd Avenue through the Township of Stickney. They crossed the Desplaines River in the Village of Lyons, raced through Riverdale, then to the Forest Park station of the Garfield Park elevated line. O’Connor then forced Mr. Condon from the car and drove northbound. It was believed by investigators that he then went to Lake Street where he went West through River Forest and again northbound on either Higgins Road or Milwaukee Avenue.
It was at this time that the largest manhunt in the Chicago Police Department’s history was initiated. Shortly after the shooting General Superintendent Charles C. Fitzmorris ordered the Rifle Squads to the Southside in search of O’Connor. Orders were to stop and search every checker cab. After hearing that O’Connor had hijacked the auto and headed north, he ordered the Rifle Squads to go into the Northwest section of the city with instructions to patrol every road.
William Foley and O’Connor’s sister were arrested. On April 22, 1921, they were indicted on the charge of accessory to murder. On July 30, 1921, O’Connor was finally apprehended in St. Paul, Minnesota as he was attempting to flee to Omaha, Nebraska aboard a Great Western Train. He was extradited back to Chicago and turned over to the Cook County Sheriff. On September 28, 1921, the case against the O’Connor’s brother-in-law and sister were nolle prossed. On October 14, 1921, O’Connor was sentenced to death on the gallows to be carried out December 15, 1921. On December 11, 1921, he escaped from the Cook County Jail. He escaped the hangman’s noose and was never recaptured. It was reported that O’Connor later died sometime in 1951 but not confirmed. The Chicago Tribune published annual please for O’Connor to turn himself in all the way into the 1970’s. It is unknown the true fate of O’Connor.
In 1927, O’Connor was responsible for planning a robbery of a pharmacy in Detroit, Michigan. A gunfight took place resulting in the Death of the two suspects and Officer Stacey C. Mizner of the Detroit Police Department.
Detective Sergeant O’Neill was waked at his residence located at 610 West 54th Place. He was laid to rest on April 13, 1921 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois.
Detective Sergeant Patrick Joseph O’Neill received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 30, 1906. He earned 1 Credible Mention during his career.
Detective Sergeant O’Neill was survived by his wife, Anna and three children.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #7450.