Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 20 years, 0 months, 27 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 17, 28th Precinct - Lake
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 53
Date of Birth: 23 Jun 1861
Date of Appointment: 10 Jul 1894
Date of Incident: 012 - Near West
End of Watch: 06 Aug 1914
Date of Interment: 09 Aug 1914
Cemetery: Forest Home Cemetery - Forest Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 1
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 43
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 6-W: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Rowe, Star #3045, aged 53 years, was a 20 year, 0 month, 27 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 17, 28th Precinct – Lake.
On August 6, 1914, at 10:00 p.m., William Dohney, age 16, Michael Geary, age 22 of 1240 West Washington Boulevard, Arthur McNally, age 17, of 1801 North Oakley Avenue and their chauffer, Mrs. Gertrude Meine began their robbing spree. They set out to rob elevated train stations. They would rob four stations on the Garfield Park Branch of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated railroad this night, taking $50.00 in total. Their first stop was the St. Louis Avenue Station, where they pointed a gun at Ticket Agent Howard Mortimer and ordered him to hold up his hands. They then grabbed $9.00 and fled. The next stop would be the Kedzie Avenue Station where they would shoot Ticket Agent Gustave Mentzel of 1533 North Oakley Avenue in the right leg. The robbers grabbed $10.00 and fled to their awaiting car on Flournoy Street. They then drove to the Sacramento Avenue Station where they robbed Ticket Agent Roger Kirkland taking $1.70.
By this time an alarm was spread notifying police and other train stations. The robbers were now headed for the Oak Park Elevated Branch. They arrived at the Robey Street station at Lake Street. Ticket Agent John H. Stevens, age 65, of 1900 West Huron Street, a civil war veteran, was on duty at the station. He had received the report of the robberies and was on the lookout when the bandits entered the station and announced a robbery. They ordered Mr. Stevens to hold up his hands and he resisted. The robbers responded by shooting and Mr. Stevens was shot to death. He fell limp in the cashier’s cage and the robbers grabbed $30.00 and left the station.
Patrolman Nels Larsen, hearing the gunfire from the train station ran to investigate. As he approached the station, he encountered the robbers exiting the station and recognized them from the earlier reports. Officer Larsen drew his service revolver and the robber’s chauffer, Meine, seeing this fled in the auto leaving her accomplices stranded. In their dilemma, the robbers then fled on foot Southbound on Robey Street (present day Damen Avenue), exchanging gunfire with Officer Larsen. At the same time, W. E. Graff of 140 North Robey Street was standing in his front yard and thinking he may be the victim of a robbery put his hands in the air. One of the robbers thought Graff may try to stop them and fired at him. Graff was shot through the right palm. The foot chase continued Southbound to Warren Avenue, with Officer Larsen in pursuit, where the robbers turned Eastbound. They continued to run to Lincoln Street (present day Wolcott Avenue) where they turned north. Officer Larsen was about a half a block behind. As the robbers neared Madison Street they darted down an alley toward Wood Street. It was here that they encountered Patrolman John Rowe who was standing at the entrance to the alley at Wood Street. It was now 10:55 p.m. and without warning one of the robbers fired their gun and struck Officer Rowe in the abdomen. Rowe collapsed to the pavement.
Officer Larsen by this time had gained on the robbers as they turned out of the alley. He fired three shots, all of which struck Geary. Geary collapsed to the ground and as the other two robbers attempted to run, McNally tripped over Geary’s body. With no means of escape, McNally was forced to surrender to Officer Larsen. The third robber, Dohney, continued to flee down Madison Street and was spotted by Detective Sergeant Thomas Comerford who was driving in the area investigating the sounds of Larsen’s gunfire. At the same time, Officer Larsen hurried Geary and McNally to Madison and Wood Street and called for a patrol wagon. Detective Sergeant Comerford picked up the chase but Dohney was able to give him the slip and make good his escape. Meanwhile the patrol wagon had arrived and Geary was taken to the Bridewell Hospital and McNally before Captain Costello and questioned. Once Detective Sergeant Comerford realized Dohney had eluded him, he returned to the scene of Officer Rowe’s shooting. Once there he discovered Officer Rowe lying at the mouth of the alley unconscious. He loaded him into his squad car and rushed him to Cook County Hospital. However his efforts were in vain as Officer Rowe died en route.
On August 9, 1914, Dohney was apprehended. On August 18, 1914, William Dohney and Michael Geary were held by Coroner for murder together with Arthur McNally and Mrs. Gertrude Meine as accessories. On October 30, 1914, Meine was indicted and a No Bill was returned. On the same day Geary was sentenced to life in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Tuthill. His sentence was to be served concurrently for his sentence in the Stevens murder. On October 31, 1914, Doheny and McNally were sentenced to the Pontiac Reformatory also to serve a concurrent sentence for the Stevens murder. Geary later escaped from prison in 1920 and was soon arrested again after committing a bank robbery. One of the suspects, unknown who, was released from prison in 1935 and was killed a short time later while committing a robbery.
Officer Rowe was waked at his residence located at 4043 North Park Avenue (present day Kildare Avenue). He was laid to rest on August 9, 1914 in Forest Home Cemetery, 863 Desplaines Avenue, Forest Park, Illinois.
Patrolman John Rowe, born June 23, 1861, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on July 10, 1894.
Officer Rowe was survived by his wife, Sarah.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #4885.