Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 12 years, 5 months, 0 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 32nd District - Shakespeare
District of Incident (Present Day): 014 - Shakespeare
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 42
Date of Birth: 05 Sep 1911
Date of Appointment: 13 Sep 1941
Date of Incident: 014 - Shakespeare
End of Watch: 13 Feb 1954
Date of Interment: 16 Feb 1954
Cemetery: St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery - Niles, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 31, Block E, Section 24
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 48
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 36-E: 13
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Roman Charles Steinke, Star #4706, aged 42 years, was a 12 year, 5 month, 0 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 32nd District – Shakespeare.
On February 6, 1954, Officer Steinke and his partner, Patrolman Jeremiah Cornelius Lucey, attempted to serve an arrest warrant for assault with a deadly weapon on James Lee-Fong, owner of a Chinese laundry at 2705 West Diversey Parkway. Officers Lucey and Steinke entered the laundry with Stephen Malenk, Sr., age 40, who pointed out Lee-Fong, who was alone, as the man who had assaulted him. After being identified, Lee-Fong admitted to slapping the boy. Officer Lucey stated to Lee-Fong “I have warrants for your arrest; you’ll have to come to the station.“ Lee asked permission to get his hat and coat in a rear room. Lee-Fong re-appeared a moment later and opened fire with a .38 caliber rifle. Shooting at both the officers and the Malenks, Lee-Fong continued to fire. Mr. Malenk, Sr. was struck first in the chest and upper arm. Officer Lucey was struck in the chest and Officer Steinke struck in several place including his wrist. The officers returned fire and Steinke was able to strike Lee-Fong in the head wounding him. Lee-Fong then fled to the back of the shop. At this time the officers and Malenks exited the shop to the sidewalk in front. Captain Thomas McLaughlin of the Shakespeare station, Supervising Captain Robert E. Ryan and several police squads responded to the laundry a few minutes later.
As the responding officers began arriving on scene they were able to get the wounded medical attention. While Lee-Fong was in the back of the shop he obtained another weapon, a .16 gauge shotgun, and began to shoot at the responding officers as they entered the shop. By this time Lee-Fong had barricaded himself in the laundry and held the 150 responding policemen at bay for 30 minutes. Detectives fired several shots into the store and then surrounded it. When the firing from Lee-Fong stopped, Detectives Edward Cagney and Joseph Corcoran battered down a back door and overpowered Lee as he lay on the floor reaching for a revolver.
Officer Steinkie would later give this account, “when he opened fire, I was knocked down. I crawled out the door and then fired three shots at the gunman. Then I passed out on the sidewalk.“ Officer Lucey had staggered into a grocery next door and collapsed. Malenk ran to a home of a neighbor in the building in which he lived and called police.
Officer Lucey was shot through the liver. He was transported to Alexian Brothers Hospital and was pronounced dead the following day on February 7, 1954. Officer Steinke was shot five times: in each hand, neck, right shoulder and abdomen. He was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital and was pronounced dead seven days later at 5:55 a.m. on February 13, 1954. Mr. Malenk, Sr. was shot in the chest and right upper arm; he later recovered at Augustina Hospital. Lee was shot two times in the head and died from his wounds April 27, 1954 at Cook County Hospital.
Police were unable to question Lee-Fong at the time of the shooting because of his wounds, but he would later claim that he did not know Steinke and Lucey were police officers but instead thought the plain clothes officers had come into his shop to beat him. The course of events began on February 3, 1954 when Mr. Malenk, Sr. said, “Lee-Fong slapped his son Stephen Malenk, Jr., age 11, in the face after chasing him and another boy for peering thru his store window.“ Lee-Fong also clubbed Malenk, Sr. with a metal pipe, breaking his left arm, and broke two windows in his automobile when he went back to the store with his son to complain. It was at that point Mr. Malenk alerted police and sought a warrant against Lee-Fong at the Shakespeare Avenue court.
Officer Steinke was waked at Lain & Son Funeral Home located at 5501 North Ashland Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Edwards Church located at 4350 West Sunnyside Avenue. He was laid to rest on February 16, 1954 in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 31, Block E, Section 24.
Patrolman Roman Charles Steinke, born September 5, 1911, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 13, 1941.
Officer Steinke was survived by his wife, Marguerite (nee Hardwick), age 38; children: Michael and Patricia, age 15 and siblings: Dora and George W. He was preceded in death by his parents: Mary (nee Prziepierski) and William John.