Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 4 years, 6 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 16 - Maxwell
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 28
Date of Birth: 17 Jan 1895
Date of Appointment: 16 Apr 1919
Date of Incident: 012 - Near West
End of Watch: 27 Oct 1923
Date of Interment: 30 Oct 1923
Cemetery: Mount Carmel Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 6, Lot 24, Block 4, Section N
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-7
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 18
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 9
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 21-E: 25
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Lawrence Curtis Hartnett, Jr., Star #3044, aged 28 years, was a 4 year, 6 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 16 – Maxwell.
On October 27, 1923, Officer Harnett, Sergeant Stephen J. Barry and Patrolman F. Fuerst had received a tip that there was an illegal bootlegging operation inside an Italian grocery store. The policemen were not unfamiliar with the store, as it had been raided several times in the past. The officers went to the store located at 914 West Polk Street. The store was owned by the Montana family, who lived in the apartment above, and was being used as a front for a moonshine plant.
At 2:55 p.m., just outside the store, the officers discussed their plan of attack. Sergeant Barry and Officer Fuerst would go in through the front door. Officer Hartnett was to run down the alley next to the store and climb the fence, so he could be ready to stop anyone from fleeing through the rear. They parted and as Barry and Fuerst stepped over the threshold to the store, someone in back caught sight of them. The store was deserted, the selves only having a few canned goods on them and a flour bin left open. Next to the curtained door that led to the back room was a dilapidated coffee grinder. As the officers peered through the curtain they observed a man pouring the contents of two bottles into a sink. They drew their guns and rushed in, Barry ordering the man to, “Cut that out! Leave those bottles alone.” At that moment the matriarch of the family, Madelina Montana, stepped forward and blocked their path. With a belligerent attitude she asked what the officers wanted. They told her why they were there and she demanded to see a search warrant. Sergeant Barry shook his head and that’s when she ran to the kitchen and grabbed a pot of boiling water and threw it at the officers.
Almost instantly, Joseph Montana, Jr., age 17, entered the kitchen from the back yard and brandished a revolver in his right hand. Sergeant Barry commanded him to put down the gun saying, “Don’t be funny. We’re only looking for evidence of bootlegging, and here your trying to make things serious.” With the officers revolvers pointed at the boy, he lowered the revolver. Regrettably, the officers made no effort to secure the boys gun. The officer then walked across the kitchen to examine the contents of a bottle. At this point, Sergeant Barry ordered Officer Fuerst to go outside and see what was keeping Officer Hartnett. No sooner had Officer Fuerst stepped outside, Joe, Sr. and his wife attacked Sergeant Barry. The two picked up pokers from the stove, Joe, Sr. picking up a flat iron. At the same time Joe, Jr. fired the gun, the first bullet hitting his grandfather in the arm and the second striking Sergeant Barry in the abdomen. Hearing the commotion, Officer Hartnett rushed in through the back door when Joe, Jr. fired again and was hit. Hartnett stumbled a few feet before collapsing. Joe, Jr. then fled the scene on foot, making good his escape.
Despite being shot, Sergeant Barry managed to reach the sidewalk and flagged down a passing auto. The driver transported Harnett to Cook County Hospital. Once there surgeons opted not to operate as they believed he had a good chance to recover. Officer Hartnett died at the scene and Sergeant Barry eventually recovered.
An all-points bulletin was issued after the shooting calling for the immediate apprehension of Joseph Montana, Jr. and his father. The Detective Bureau flooded the Italian quarter with policemen and a manhunt was initiated. The entire district was searched and officers were able to locate and recover a jug of wine, several cans of alcohol and sixty bottles of moonshine from the apartment above the grocery store.
Joseph Montana, Jr., was arrested the following day and charged with murder. He was held to the November Grand Jury where he was indicted together with Joseph, Sr., Madeline, John, Jr., age 13, John, Sr., age 65, and Rosina who were charged with assault with the intent to kill. On April 24, 1924, the entire Montana family was acquitted in a bench trial of all charges.
Officer Harnett was waked at his residence located at 4753 West Jackson Boulevard. His funeral mass was held at Resurrection Catholic Church located at 5082 West Jackson Boulevard. He was laid to rest on October 30, 1923 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 6, Lot 24, Block 4, Section N.
Patrolman Lawrence Curtis Hartnett, Jr., born on January 17, 1895, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 16, 1919.
Officer Harnett was a member of Carroll Council No. 761 Knights of Columbus and a 4th degree member of De La Salle Assembly. He was survived by his wife, Alice (nee Miles), daughters: Catherine Ann and Lorraine and siblings: Margaret and Mrs. T. J. Carmody.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #7466.