Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 6 years*
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 3rd Precinct - Desplaines Street Station
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 28
Date of Birth: 1854
Date of Appointment: 1876
Date of Incident: 001 - Central
End of Watch: 29 Nov 1882
Date of Interment: 02 Dec 1882
Cemetery: Graceland Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 14
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 10-W: 3
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Clarence E. Wright, Star #255, aged 28 years, was a 6 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 3rd Precinct – Desplaines Street Station.
On November 29, 1882, Officer Wright was on duty and sitting at the Lockup Keeper’s desk in the lockup at the Desplaines Street Station. He was talking to Officer Jennings when Lieutenant Ward called him upstairs to his office. The Lieutenant handed him an arrest warrant charging William Allen, Alias Joe Dehlmor, age 32, with disorderly conduct and ordered Officer Wright to go and execute the warrant. The lieutenant also stated that Allen could be found at No. 37 West Washington Street (present day 528 West Washington Street). In addition he stated that the complainant, Mr. Merrill, would be waiting for him at the Chicago Fire Department, Chemical 1’s house located on the corner of Washington and Clinton Streets.
Officer Wright, at the suggestion of the Lieutenant left the station with Patrolman Tim J. Foley and headed to the engine house. Upon arrival the officers located Mr. Merrill who related that Allen had just arrived home and that he was in his room, No. 11 on the second floor. Officer Wright replied. “All right, come along, let’s go over an get him.” While en route, the officers ran into Detective Fletcher from the Harrison Street Station. He was in the company of William Hizer of No. 174 Harrison Street (present day 705 West Harrison Street). Detective Fletcher related that he too was on the lookout for Allen and was also en route to his residence to arrest him. He stated that Allen had nearly killed a man just before noon at the Northwestern Depot. Mr. Hizer had traced Allen to the Washington Street address and they were on their way to get help before entering the building. The three officers after a brief conversation entered Allen’s building and went to his room.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Officer Wright knocked on the apartment door and heard a women’s voice from inside say, “Get up Bill and see who it is.” After a minute, the door opened about half way by the woman. Before Officer Wright could say anything, a gunshot rang out. Officer Wright staggered back a few steps into room No. 9 with his hand to his head. He collapsed to the floor with his feet doubled back underneath him and died instantly. Officer Foley and Detective Fletcher startled by what had just occurred retreated and returned fire. They fired blindly towards the room and in the commotion gave Allen an opportunity to escape down the stairs. Allen fled from the building and tripped on the stairs leading from the building to the sidewalk. Per a witness, Mrs. Sullivan, Allen recovered himself and casually walked away. Allen leisurely walked Eastbound on Washington Street towards the entrance of the footway tunnel. As soon as the other officers recovered themselves they rushed into the room where Allen had been only to find him gone. The only occupants in the room were Mrs. Sinead and Alice Hutchinson, who claimed to be Allen’s wife. The officers placed the two women into custody as well as James Smead who was found somewhere else on the premises. Detective Fletcher then called the Desplaines Street Station and summoned the patrol wagon.
Within a few minutes, Captain Bonfield and his men were on scene. A description of Allen was obtained and messages were transmitted to several stations and telegraphed to the Chiefs of Police in Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee and a number of other cities. Officer Wright was taken to the station where he was laid on a cot in the roll call room and subjected to inspection by fellow officers. Signal Sergeant John Wheeler found that the fatal shot entered about an inch and a half in front of Officer Wrights right ear near the cheekbone.
Officer Foley and Detective Fletcher were discharged from the service of the City of Chicago and the Police Department following the incident. They were cited for failure to chase after William Allen after he murdered Officer Wright.
On December 3, 1882, Patrolman Patrick N. Mulvihill received information on the whereabouts of Allen and was shot and killed by Allen as he attempted to apprehend him. Allen fled and was found hiding in a coal box at Kinzie and Green Streets by Detective Sergeant John Wheeler, who shot and killed him.
Officer Wright was waked at his residence located at No. 3835 Indiana Street (present day 6382 West Grand Avenue) and was laid to rest on December 2, 1882 in Graceland Cemetery, 4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman Clarence E. Wright, born in 1854, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department in 1876.
Officer Wright was survived by mother, sister and brother.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #3 and Case #2801.