Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 8 years, 6 months, 24 day

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 25th District - Fillmore

District of Incident (Present Day): 015 - Austin

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy

Age at Time of Death: 32


Date of Birth: 29 Aug 1898

Date of Appointment: 08 Jun 1922

Date of Incident: 015 - Austin

End of Watch: 01 Jan 1931

Date of Interment: 05 Jan 1931


Interment Details

 Cemetery: St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery - Niles, Illinois
 Grave Location: Lot 451, Section 18
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-2

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 17

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 29

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 6-E: 4

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman John J. Vondruska, Jr., Star #6048, aged 32 years, was an 8 year, 6 month, 24 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 25th District – Fillmore.

On January 1, 1931, at 6:50 a.m., Officer Vondruska was detailed to help prevent robberies and protect the money turned in by the drivers at the Yellow Cab Company garage located at 4950 West Flournoy Street. On New Year’s Day, five armed robbers arrived in two automobiles and entered the facility and yelled “Stick ‘em up.” The robbers were intent on taking the $8,000.00 dollars in payroll. Officer Vondruska, upon seeing the offenders enter, fired the first shot. One of the intruders, armed with a sawed-off shotgun and another with a machine gun then opened fire on Officer Vondruska. A cab driver, William Smith, heard the gunshots and was shot twice in the legs when he ran to assist the wounded officer. Officer Vondruska was transported to F. E. Willard Hospital where he was pronounced dead on January 1, 1931.

Members of the “42“ gang were subsequently arrested. Mike Mercurio, age 24, was arrested later in the day in the Maxwell Street District and found to be wounded by shotgun fire. He was positively identified as one of the bandits. He refused to name his accomplices, but five witnesses were able to identify two of the gunmen from a police photo lineup. The witnesses identified Mike DeSteffano and George Conrad.

On June 29, 1931, Mercurio, on a plea of guilty, was sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Joseph David.

Officer Vondruska was laid to rest on January 5, 1931 in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave –, Lot 451, Section 18.

Patrolman John J. Vondruska, Jr., born August 29, 1898, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 8, 1929 and was issued Star #1250. On July 20, 1922 he was Dropped From Rolls. On July 1, 1929, he was reinstated and issued Patrolman Star #6048