Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 8 years, 2 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail:
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 41
Date of Birth: 15 Aug 1888
Date of Appointment: 14 Jul 1921
Date of Incident: 002 - Wentworth
End of Watch: 25 Sep 1929
Date of Interment: 28 Sep 1929
Cemetery: All Saints Catholic Cemetery - Des Plaines, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 1, Lot N7, Block 3, Section 9
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 12
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 25
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 35-E: 12
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William Gallagher, Star #1162, aged 41 years, was an 8 year, 2 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 26th District – Desplaines.
On September 25, 1929, at 11:45 a.m., Officer Gallagher and his partner, Patrolman Jesse D. Hults along with other officers, were conducting an investigation into a reported kidnapping of Charles Kirkman. Kirkman was the leader of the “Moorish Science Temple,“ a black cult, kidnapped from his residence located at 442 West Elm Street. The organization had been having internal conflicts and this was not the first time it was made public. Claude Green, the international treasurer of the organization, was shot and killed on March 14, 1929 before a meeting. After being kidnapped, Kirkman’s fellow leaders attempted to rescue him before calling for police help. During the course of their investigation, the officers relocated to a hallway outside an apartment at 4139 South Parkway (present day Drexel Boulevard), on the city’s south side. When they demanded entry, they were met with a burst of heavy gunfire. Gallagher and Hults were both struck and fell mortally wounded while the other officers returned fire. A fierce gun battle ensued and police were forced to result to sawed off shot guns, revolver and tear gas bombs. The gunmen were dislodged from the apartment by the tear gas bombs and the gunfight moved to the street where over 100 rounds were exchanged as the cult member led the scene. By this time a crowd had gathered to watch as Deason Stephens, who shot Hults, was killed by a member of Patrolman Frank J. Reynolds squad while attempting to escape.
Charles Kirkman and Officer Gallagher died at the scene. Officer Gallagher was transported to Chicago Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival on September 25, 1929. Officer Hults was rushed to Mercy Hospital where it was learned that he was shot seven times and determined that there was nothing doctors could do for him. Officer Hults died the following day in the evening of September 26, 1929. Ironically, Hults had said to his superior, Lieutenant Andrew Barry, “Don’t worry Andy. I’ll beat this and be back on the job soon” shortly before he died.
Over 1000 extra policemen were activated and called out to patrol the city’s Southside in an effort to prevent the escalation and further violence into becoming a riot. This precautionary measure by Department command staff proved unnecessary as the areas residents quickly settled down. 60 people were taken into custody after officers took control of the situation. An additional 20 of the organizations associates were also ordered held by Deputy Commissioner Stege after he learned of Hults death. The arrestees were thoroughly questioned in an attempt to learn the root cause of the organizations internal conflict and the names of those involved in the shootout. Detectives soon learned that the Moorish Science Temple was a racket run to make money for its leaders. Deputy Commissioner Stege publicly proclaimed that all of the temple’s costumes’ titles and regalia were deceptive props used to twist the religion of Islam into a ploy to scam innocent believers. The temple’s leaders, whom were interviewed by detectives, admitted to charging several thousand members of the organization 50 cents weekly in dues that mostly went into their own pockets.
On September 26, 1929, Ira Johnson, was identified as the killer of Officer Gallagher. He was held by the Coroner as principal and Eugene Jackson, Moses Jackson, E. Mealey, Compton Johnson and H. M. R. Johnson were held as accessories. All were indicted on two charges each by the October 1929 Grand Jury. On April 18, 1930, Johnson was sentenced to life in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet while H.M.R. Johnson and another accomplice received lighter sentences. On April 21, 1930 all other remaining cases, were nolle prossed by Judge Steffen. In total three convictions were made in the Gallagher case.
Officer Gallagher was waked at his residence located at 5723 West Warwick Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Pascal Church located at 3925 North Melvina Avenue. He was laid to rest on September 28, 1929 in All Saints Catholic Cemetery, 700 North River Road, Des Plaines, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 1, Lot N7, Block 3, Section 9.
Patrolman William Gallagher, born August 15, 1888, received a Temporary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 8, 1907 and was issued Star #3481. He received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on July 14, 1921 and was issued Star #1162. He earned 1 Credible Mention and 1 Extra Compensation for Meritorious Conduct totaling $180.00 during his career.
Officer Gallagher served in the U.S. Army from May 27, 1918 thru February 24, 1919 in Battery D, 54th Field Artillery, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Private. He was also a member of the Chicago Police Post No. 207 American Legion and the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. Officer Gallagher was survived by his wife, Bessie (nee Hunt); children: William Kenard, age 11 months, Loraine and Marie; mother, Beatrice and siblings: John, Sister Mary Kilian, Michael, Mrs. B. McDonough, Mrs. K. Durkin, Mrs. T. Davis, Nellie and Teresa.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #10026.