Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 13 years, 2 months, 19 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 15, 38th Precinct - East Chicago
District of Incident (Present Day): 018 - Near North
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 35
Date of Birth: 09 Oct 1874
Date of Appointment: 14 Dec 1896
Date of Incident: 018 - Near North
End of Watch: 05 Mar 1910
Date of Interment: 07 Mar 1910
Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Evanston, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 26, Block 3, Section B
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 39
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 33-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective John A. Wren, Star #3987, aged 35 years, was a 13 year, 2 month, 19 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 15, 38th Precinct – East Chicago.
On March 4, 1910, at 4:30 a.m., Detective Wren was on duty working in plain clothes with his partner, Detective Patrick J. Quinn. The detectives were walking South on Townsend Street (present day Hudson Avenue). As they approached Chicago Avenue they observed three suspicious men, “Black Hand“ suspects. The detectives ordered the men to halt and announced their office. In response to the command, the three assailants drew weapons and opened fire without warning. Detective Wren was shot two times in the abdomen and collapsed to ground. Detective Quinn was shot once in the foot and also collapsed. Despite being wounded both Detective’s drew their weapons and returned fire, firing over a dozen rounds. Detective Wren was transported to Passavant Hospital where he was pronounced dead on March 5, 1910.
Detective Quinn later stated that he was sure they struck one of the gunmen as they made good their escape. No trace of the gunmen was found and all reserves were called in to conduct a manhunt. Little information was obtainable in this case. However, three men, Joe Glumaky, Mike Mekevitt and Fred Vogt, were later held for questioning at the Shakespeare Station. The men had previous arrest histories and were arrested at the time for a robbery, but denied any connection to Detective Wren’s murder. A fourth suspect, Barrato Cornico, was later arrested for the murder. Detective Quinn identified him as one of the three men. However, Cornico was later released after several of his friends corroborated his alibi.
Detective Wren was waked at his residence located at 17 East Chestnut Street. His funeral mass was held at Holy Name Cathedral located at 730 North Wabash Avenue. He was laid to rest on March 7, 1910 in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 26, Block 3, Section B.
Detective John A. Wren, October 9, 1874, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on December 14, 1896.
Detective Wren was survived by his wife and mother, Margaret (nee Bresnen).
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #2703.
Following Detective Wren’s death, the police department formed the Black Hand Squad to combat Mafia affiliated groups responsible for crimes in the Italian neighborhoods of Chicago. It was believed at the time that Detective Wren’s death was attributed to a “Black Hand” gang and was the impetuous that led to a resolution forming the Black Hand Squad.
On October 14, 1910, Detective Wren’s star was retired by General Superintendent LeRoy T. Steward and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Room 505, Office of the Superintendent of Police. Detective Shea’s star was one of fourteen stars added to the newly instituted memorial to preserve the memory of detectives killed in the line of duty. The tradition of retiring a star number was born. In 1928, the star case was moved to the 4th floor Office of the Superintendent at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. The Honored Star Case was later relocated to the lobby of Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters again moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Detective Wren’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.