Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 20 years, 11 months, 21 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 4th District - South Chicago
District of Incident (Present Day): 004 - South Chicago
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 47
Date of Birth: 12 Nov 1921
Date of Appointment: 24 Apr 1948
Date of Incident: 004 - South Chicago
End of Watch: 24 Apr 1969
Date of Interment: 18 Apr 1969
Cemetery: St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot N1/2 935, Block --, Section MS
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 14
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 18
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 40-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army Reserve
Incident & Biographic Details
Sergeant James Robert Schaffer, Star #824, aged 47 years, was a 20 year, 11 month, 21 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 4th District – South Chicago.
On April 14, 1969, at 3:02 p.m., Sergeant Schaffer and Detective Jerome A. Stubig responded to 9521 South Exchange Avenue with Detective William McInerney and Patrolman Arthur Ciechanowski. Detective McInerney and Officer Ciechanowski climbed the stairs to the 3rd floor rear door of the building while Sergeant Schaffer and Detective Stubig waited at the ground level. The two men knocked on Frank J. Kulak’s door. They announced they were police officers and Kulak answered the knock with gunfire. Both officers had been shot and injured. Sergeant Schaffer and Detective Stubig then climbed the stairs to assist and were injured by an explosion. Kulak had thrown a bomb at the two officers. As they lay injured, Kulak exited his apartment and emptied his carbine into both men, killing them. Kulak then barricaded himself in his apartment and a six-hour gun battle between Kulak, a former marine, and hundreds of heavily armed police ensued. Kulak surrendered to Deputy Police Superintendent James Rochford at 9:00 p.m. that evening. The bodies of Sergeant Schaffer and Detective Stubig were found on the rear porch. Sergeant Schaffer was transported to South Chicago Hospital by beat 470 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Carroll at 9:30 p.m. on April 14, 1969. Detective Stubig was also transported to South Chicago Hospital by beat 471 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Carroll at 9:32 p.m. on April 14, 1969. Several other officers were injured either by gunfire or the bomb explosions. They were all treated at South Chicago Hospital and discharged.
It was later learned that Kulak was responsible for six other bombings in which two people were killed and several others injured. Kulak was taken into custody and an arsenal of weapons was recovered from his apartment. Recovered were two carbines, an M-1 rifle, two semi-automatic handguns, two 12-gauge shotguns, a grenade launcher and 30 bombs. One bomb was large enough to level the three-story building if it had gone off. 24 unexploded bombs and grenades were also found outside the building.
On May 15, 1969, Frank Kulak was indicted by the Grand Jury on the Death of four persons. On February 27, 1970, Kulak was found incompetent to stand trial due to paranoid schizophrenia and was ordered held to a maximum security mental facility. In September 1986, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Kulak must be released after spending more than 15 years in a state mental health facility in Chester, Illinois. The order required the state to find Kulak eligible for commitment under a civil law proceeding as being a danger to himself and others or release him.
Sergeant Schaffer was waked at Brady-Gill Funeral Home located at 2929 West 87th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Thomas More Church located at 2825 West 81st Street. He was laid to rest on April 18, 1969 in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, 3801 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot N1/2 935, Block –, Section MS.
Sergeant James Robert Schaffer, born November 12, 1921, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 24, 1948 and was issued Star #3123. On May 24, 1948 he was issued Patrolman Star #2450. On October 16, 1964, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and issued Star #824. He earned 3 Department Commendations and 1 Honorable Mention during his career. In September 1955 he was promoted to the rank of Detective.
Sergeant Schaffer served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was a veteran of World War II and was Honorably Discharged. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Colonel. Sergeant Schaffer was also a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association, St. Thomas More Holy Name Society, Illinois Police Association and the St. Jude Police League. He was survived by his wife, Joanna D. (nee Tapak); daughter, Joan Grace and brother, William. He was preceded in death by his parents: Grace Marion (nee Couch) and William James.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department RD #H122105.