Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 9 years, 4 months, 19 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 13, 41st Precinct - Sheffield
District of Incident (Present Day): 019 - Town Hall
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 37
Date of Birth: 1866
Date of Appointment: 03 Jul 1894
Date of Incident: 019 - Town Hall
End of Watch: 22 Nov 1903
Date of Interment: 25 Nov 1903
Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 18
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 33
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 34-E: 13
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Quinn, Star #2797, aged 37 years, was a 9 year, 4 month, 19 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 13, 41st Precinct – Sheffield.
Officer Quinn and his partner, Patrolman Blaul, were assigned to investigate several armed robberies and murders being perpetrated by known offenders, most notable the “Car Barn Murder.“ Officers Quinn and Blaul were given information that one Gustave Marx, who lived in their police district, had exhibited an automatic revolver in a saloon and possessed a considerable amount of money. Both knew Marx and they spent several days looking for him.
On November 21, 1903, shortly before 11:00 p.m., Officers Quinn and Blaul saw Marx in Greenberg’s saloon located on the Southwest corner of Addison Avenue and Robey Street (present day Damen Avenue). He was standing at the bar drinking with a crowd of young men. Quinn entered through the front door of the saloon and Blaul by a side entrance. “I want you,“ Quinn said to Marx, and before he could place his hands on the suspect’s shoulder he had received his death wound. Marx had whipped out a revolver and fired several shots, the first of which struck Quinn in the stomach. Officer Quinn was fatally wounded. Officer Blaul returned fire and wounded Marx. Officer Blaul, who had witnessed the shooting of his partner, closed in on Marx and showed him no more mercy than the latter had shown Quinn and returned fire. Marx was wounded twice, once in the shoulder and another bullet striking him in the hip. As he fell Blaul leaped upon him with the ferocity of a tiger and disarmed him of two revolvers. Marx was arrested and taken to the 41st Precinct Station where he was interrogated and snitched on his fellow gang members, Niedermeier, Roeski and Van Dine, who were also wanted for robberies and murders at railway offices and saloons in Chicago, including the Car Barn Murder. Officer Quinn was transported to Alexian Brothers Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:00 a.m. on November 22, 1903.
During the time that Marx was locked up and before he “squealed“ his partners, who knew of his arrest, remained in Chicago, but kept under cover. It developed later that the rescue of Marx from the 41st Precinct, Sheffield Avenue Police Station, was planned by Van Dine and Niedermeier. They had rented a building in the vicinity, which was to be set on fire. The patrol wagon and crew would respond and so would any commanding officers in the station except the desk sergeant. To take the latter and lockup keeper unawares and shoot them if necessary was the program, and liberate their confederate during the progress of the fire.
The publication of Marx’s confession in the Wednesday morning Chicago papers effected a sudden transformation in Van Dine and Niedermeier’s sentiments, and their desire to destroy Marx was more intense than their desire to effect his liberation. They decided that flight was the only thing left for them, and consequently they fled from the city that night, going to Indiana.
Later, in Indiana, a country school teacher, who that day had seen the pictures of Van Dine and Niedermeier in a Chicago newspaper, recognized them as the hunted bandits and he informed the Chicago Police Department by telegraph of his suspicions. Acting under instructions from the Superintendent’s office the following men were dispatched that night to Indiana: Detective Sergeants Mathew Zimmer and James Gleason, and Officers Martin J. Qualey, Joseph Baumer, John Sheehan, Joseph Hughes and John Driscoll.
On November 27, 1904, at 5:00 a.m., eight officers assigned to track down Officer Quinn’s killers, Niedermeier, Roeski and Van Dine, saw smoke curling from a dugout alongside the railroad tracks some distance from Pine, Indiana at Millers Station. Suspecting that they had found their quarry they approached the hut with drawn revolvers and commanded those inside to surrender. A slanting door was thrown open and one of the bandits showed himself, discharging his revolver at the same time. Officer Driscoll was mortally wounded in the first volley of shots that belched from Niedermeier’s automatic gun, and Detective Sergeant Zimmer was the next to fall a victim with dangerous wounds in the head and right shoulder. All three suspects were able to make good their escape in the confusion. Officer Driscoll died of his wounds four days later on December 1, 1903 at Mercy Hospital in Chicago.
VanDine, Roeski, and Peter Niedermeier were located by a large posse and arrested a week later. On December 5, 1903, they were held by the Coroner. On March 26, 1904, Niedermeier and VanDine, and a fourth, Marx, were convicted of the robbery and murder of railway employee Frank W. Stewart and sentenced to hang by Judge Kersten. On April 22, 1904, the 21-year-old offenders were executed by hanging at the Cook County Jail. The third suspect, Roeski, was convicted of one of the saloon murders and sentenced to life in prison.
Officer Quinn was waked at his residence located at No. 1933 North Ashland Avenue (present day 3504 North Ashland Avenue). His funeral mass was held at St. Andrew’s Church. He was laid to rest on November 25, 1903 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman John Quinn, born in 1866, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on July 3, 1894.
Officer Quinn was a veteran of the U.S. Army from January 26, 1888 thru January 25, 1893 in Company C., 20th Infantry and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Sergeant. He was survived by his wife, Kate and children: George F., James E. and Katie.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #1986.
In February 1958, Officer Quin’s star was retired by Commissioner Timothy J. O’Connor and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Quin’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.