Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 0 years, 4 months, 9 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 15, 20th Precinct - Fillmore
District of Incident (Present Day): 007 - Englewood
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 29
Date of Birth: 06 May 1890
Date of Appointment: 16 Apr 1919
Date of Incident: 007 - Englewood
End of Watch: 25 Aug 1919
Date of Interment: 28 Aug 1919
Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Inclusion Request Declined
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 4
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed
Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Morgan Patrick Donahue, Star #3913, aged 29 years, was a 4 month, 9 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 15, 20th Precinct – Fillmore.
On August 25, 1919, at 9:30 p.m., Officer Donahue, while off duty, was at the Hoffman & Egan Saloon located at 5858 South Halsted Street. He was there with 15 of his brother officers. Events of the incident were never clear and three theories as to what started the chain of events surfaced. The first theory was that Officer Donahue attempted to take a bottle of beer from the saloon. The second theory was that patrons of the saloon believed the officers to be inspectors for the dry law. The third theory, presented in a statement given by Daniel McFall of 5339 South Loomis Street, a 13th Ward politician who had run for alderman several times as a Democrat after the shooting. He stated that the fight started over a box of candy taken from the pocket of a relative, James McFall, a city fireman. One of the men took the candy and a fight ensued. The men took sides and part of the gang which tried to steal the candy left the saloon and soon returned armed.
What is known is that Officer Donahue began to struggle with Anthony Kelly of 4208 South Union Avenue. Kelly was a foreman at the Wilson & Company meatpacking plant in the stockyards. Kelly was struggling with Officer Donahue in an attempt to gain control of a bottle of beer Donahue was holding. It was at this time Edward Hoffman fired a shot into the floor in an attempt to break up the fight. Officer Donahue’s partner, Patrolman John P. Donegan heard the gunshot and believed Kelly had a gun and had just shot his partner. However, Officer Donahue was shot, but the assailant was unknown. It was believed at the time that Edward Hoffman had shot Officer Donahue, but evidence disproving this theory later turned up. Donegan drew his revolver and shot Kelly. Kelly was struck in his chest and right leg. Three men took Officer Donahue to Englewood Union Hospital in a black auto with no lights or tags. Upon arrival at the hospital Officer Donahue was left outside the front door as the men who brought him left. Officer Donahue succumbed to his injuries before he entered the hospital. Kelly was also taken to Englewood Union Hospital where he later died from his wounds.
It was Detective Sergeant William “Packy” Doyle who gave a full and coherent statement of what transpired. Doyle and Powers attempted to break up the fight but were unable to gain control of the situation. At this point they both left the saloon and each went to a patrol box and called for backup after Donahue was shot. The Englewood and Stockyards Stations both received the calls for back up and each sent officers. Inside one of the stations an officer yelled out, “Cop named Donegan killed.” One officer heard the commotion, Probationary Patrolman Joseph Morgan, age 25, and asked, “What name did you say? I’ve got a brother over in that neighborhood.” Officer Joseph Morgan jumped in a patrol wagon and headed to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was met by the doctor who said, “You can’t see them. The policeman’s dead. The other man is dying.” Officer Joseph Morgan then asked what the star number of the officer killed was and was told. It was his brother’s and he became faint and collapsed being caught by his fellow officers. He perked up and reached for his revolver saying, “Morgan’s dead, I might as well go too.” Before he could put the gun to his head, the other officers took it from him.
General Superintendent John J. Garrity took immediate action in the wake of the shooting. Four officers; Detective Sergeant Edward Powers of the East Chicago Avenue Station, Detective Sergeant Frank Welling of the Detective Bureau, Detective Sergeant William Egan of the Maxwell Street Station and Patrolman John P. Donegan of the Fillmore Street Station were suspended for their possible involvement in the incident. Donegan and Powers admitted to being at the saloon and Donegan also admitted to firing his gun. Egan claimed that he had not been in the saloon at all. Welling admitted to being there but claimed to have left the saloon when the fight broke out and returned after it was over. No further action was taken against the officers and they eventually returned to full duty.
After the shooting Officer Donegan, Martin Egan, Edward Hoffman, James McFall and the bartender were held for questioning. During questioning Hoffman admitted to firing the first shot but claimed to have shot the ground in an attempt to end the dispute. He denied shooting Officer Donahue. However, investigators did not believe him, as the bullet recovered from Officer Donahue was from a .45 caliber gun the same as the gun Hoffman fired. A spent .45 caliber round was later found on the floor of the saloon corroborating Hoffman’s account.
On September 29, 1919, Edward Hoffman was arrested and held without bail. He was held by the Coroner to the Grand Jury on a charge of Manslaughter: Unintentional killing with Gun. The March 1920 Grand Jury returned a No Bill on Hoffman. No one was ever found responsible for the murder of Officer Donahue.
Officer Donahue was laid to rest on August 28, 1919 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman Morgan Patrick Donahue, born May 6, 1890, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 16, 1919.
Officer Donahue served in the U.S. Army, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged. He was survived by his mother, Ellen (nee Sullivan) and siblings: Joseph (CPD), age 25, Roger, age 17 and Walter, age 19.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #3465.