Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 years, 5 months, 8 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 36th District - Hudson
District of Incident (Present Day): 018 - Near North
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 28
Date of Birth: 26 Jan 1902
Date of Appointment: 16 Sep 1926
Date of Incident: 018 - Near North
End of Watch: 24 Feb 1930
Date of Interment: 01 Mar 1930
Cemetery: Mount Carmel Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 2, Lot S22, Block 4, Section 22
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 23
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 26
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 22-W: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Joseph Ryan, Sr., Star #5618, aged 28 years, was a 3 year, 5 month, 8 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 36th District – Hudson.
On February 24, 1930, at 11:30 a.m., Officer Ryan received information on the whereabouts of and ex-convict, Joseph Fallon, who was wanted on a bond forfeiture and robbery warrant. Former Alderman Titus Haffa of the 43rd Ward notified the Hudson Avenue station that Fallon was hold-up in the home of Frank McGovern located at 1598 North Clybourn Avenue. The location was a Chicago rooming-house operated by his sister Mrs. Mary McGovern. The station’s Flivver Squad rushed to the location in an attempt to apprehend Fallon. They were met with negative results; as a result Officer Ryan was left behind to wait for Fallon to arrive. Officer Ryan waited inside the house with Mrs. Mary McGovern, her daughter, Majorie, age 14 and another daughter, Mrs. Bernadine Nabar, age 16, of 1903 North Osgood Street (present day Kenmore Avenue). A short while later Fallon arrived and knocked on the door. Officer Ryan opened the door and showed Fallon his star. Without hesitation, Fallon drew his weapon and fired immediately at Officer Ryan striking him two times. Officer Ryan had his revolver at the ready and was able to return fire. According to a Chicago Daily Tribune article, “Ryan had his pistol ready, but obeyed the regular police practice of permitting the criminal to have the first shot.” Ryan returned fire as he collapsed to the floor, striking Fallon three times. During the commotion, Bernadine Nabar ran outside and hailed a passing Checker Taxi cab. The cab driven by Tony Patti of 1945 North Winchester Avenue was directed to the boarding house. Meanwhile Mrs. Mary McGovern was helping Fallon to the street to meet the cab. Fallon, McGovern and Nabar got into the cab and fled the scene making good their escape. Captain Thomas Condon responded to the scene and arrived two minutes after the shooting. He spoke with Officer Ryan who was mortally wounded and was unable to tell the Captain what happened. Officer Ryan was then transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short while later on February 24, 1930.
Witnesses who had heard the shooting and saw Fallon escape were able to give the cab’s number to Captain Condon. The cab’s number was 5151. With that information at hand, police went to the cab company’s office and learned the car was owned by Sam Agnello of 716 West Gardner Avenue (present day Goethe Street) who had employed Patti as a chauffeur. Captain Condon then tracked Agnello down, learning the address of Patti from him.
The manhunt for Fallon began with Lieutenant John L. Sullivan in command of a Detective Bureau squad, Sergeant Sidney Sullivan in command of another squad and Patrolman James Sullivan in temporary command of a third homicide squad. The three learned from Alderman Haffa and others of places Fallon would likely go if wounded. With the blood trail left behind by Fallon, they were certain he was shot at least one time. Sergeant George Schupolsky and his squad went to Patti’s residence and ordered to wait there by Lieutenant Sullivan until Patti arrived. At 5:30 p.m., the same day as the incident, Patti arrived home and as he started to wash the blood from the cab, Sergeant Schupolsky apprehended him. Patti told the sergeant that he had driven Fallon and his accomplices to Webster and Clybourn Avenues where they got into another cab. The Sergeant then transported Patti to the Hudson Avenue station to be questioned by Captain Condon. While being question, Patti admitted he lied to the sergeant and started to ramble about taking three people to Oak Park. He claimed he lied because Fallon had threatened him with death. Patti then said “Then I took him to Harrison and Western Avenue.” Conlon asked, “What number?” “I don’t know, but I will take you to the place, because he’s still there.” Patti extorted.
The station house then emptied out, all except for the station crew, and four squad cars took the trip with Patti. Upon arriving at Harrison Street and Western Avenue Patti pointed out a building at 2419 West Harrison Street from the alley. Captain Condon ordered half the men to go to the front of the building. The Captain, Lieutenant Sullivan and Sergeant Sullivan ran up the rear steps with several other officers armed with shotguns taking up the rear. Captain Condon kicked in the door and announced “Police officer” to two women he saw just beyond the kitchen. Condon and the two Sullivans charged into the front room, shouting, “Where is he?” Fallon was found lying with his back on a bed and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the leg. They held their weapons on him while they asked “Where’s your gun?” Fallon retorted “It’s in a drawer in the bureau” as he pointed to it saying “I’m dying.” At this time Patti was brought in and identified Fallon as the one he drove from the scene of the crime along with the two women, McGovern and Nabor. All three were placed under arrest at the flat. Fallon was taken to the Bridewell Hospital where he died at 9:35 p.m. the same day. Before Fallon died he gave a statement to Captain Condon admitting to shooting Officer Ryan. In statements given by the two women, their stories were also similar to that which Fallon had told the Captain. The electric light bills found in the flat belonged to Michael Brady, however questioning of people in the neighborhood revealed the flat to belong to Charles Rafters, alias One-eyed Rafters, alias Charles Moran. Rafters had a burglary and robbery record.
On February 24, 1930, Mrs. McGovern, and the cab driver, Tony Patti; were booked as accessories. On February 26, 1930, Mrs. McGovern was held by Judge Helander to the Grand Jury on $5000.00 bond and Patti was discharged. On February 27, 1930, Charles Rafters also was booked as accessory and on March 6, 1930, held on $5000.00 bond by Judge Sbarboro. On May 5, 1930, Rafter’s case was nolle prossed by Judge Finnegan. On May 7, 1930, McGovern was acquitted by Judge Finnegan. It is unknown if Bernadine Nabor was charged, but is likely that she was not due to her being a minor.
Fallon had an extensive rap sheet going back 18 years and was well known to police. On September 21, 1912, he did six months in the House of Corrections for larceny. On January 13, 1917, he was sent to the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet for robbery. On March 22, 1921, he was paroled and on October 4, 1921 was sent back for a parole violation. On April 19, 1924, he was paroled again and then discharged from parole on April 15, 1925. On January 26, 1926, he did another three months in the House of Corrections for larceny. On April 21, 1926, he was indicted for burglary and pleaded guilty to petit larceny before Judge McGoorty and sentenced to one year in the Bridewell. On December 10, 1927, he was found guilty of robbery with a potential for a life term. Judge Kerner granted a new trial where the felony was waived after Fallon pleaded guilty to a petit larceny and was then sentenced to one year in the Bridewell. On January 24, 1929, he was arrested again with two others in the possession of loot from a store. Fallon was held on February 22, 1929 on $25,000.00 bond arranged by former Alderman Titus Haffa. On April 20, 1929, his bond was forfeited by Judge Normoyle and a bond forfeiture warrant was issued. As a fugitive, a week before Officer Ryan’s death, he robbed Haffa’s sister which led to Mr. Haffa reporting his location to police.
Officer Ryan was waked at his residence located at 2447 West Chicago Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Michael’s Church located at 1633 North Cleveland Avenue. He was laid to rest on March 1, 1930 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 2, Lot S22, Block 4, Section 22.
Patrolman John Joseph Ryan, Sr., born January 26, 1902, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 16, 1926. He earned at least 2 Credible Mention during his career.
Officer Ryan was survived by his wife, Angeline (nee Spizziri); children: John Joseph, Jr., age 5 and William Thomas, age 3; parents: Nellie and William and siblings: Alice Petrola, Mabel, Robert E. and William M. He was preceded in death by his sister, Janice.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #10923.