Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 7 years, 11 months, 26 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 5, 12th Precinct - Woodlawn
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 31
Date of Birth: 11 Feb 1905
Date of Appointment: 12 May 1882
Date of Incident: 29 Apr 1900
End of Watch: 29 Apr 1900
Date of Interment: 02 May 1900
Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Evanston, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot S21, Block 40, Section Y
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 10
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 30
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 62-E: 7
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Desk Sergeant Timothy S. O’Connell, Star #266, aged 31 years, was a 17 year, 11 month, 17 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 5, 12th Precinct – Woodlawn.
On April 29, 1900, at 10:30 p.m., Sergeant O’Connell was off duty in plain clothes and had just finished visiting friends and relatives of his wife. As he was walking to his car an armed robber, George Henchik confronted him on the 18th Street Viaduct. As Sergeant O’Connell drew his service revolver, Henchik fired a shot and fled. Two night watchmen, John Surran and Joseph O’Connor, for the Pennsylvania Railway Company were standing underneath the viaduct near the East approach at Canal Street when they heard the gunfire directly above them. The watchmen then heard a heavy thud and the shuffling of retreating feet. They both split up and ran to investigate, one coming from the east approach and the other the west approach. When they arrived they discovered Sergeant O’Connell lying dead face down on the viaduct approximately fifty feet from the east approach and no one else in sight. Sergeant O’Connell had sustained a gunshot to his left breast and was found with his revolver drawn unfired at his side. He was also clinching, in his left hand, a battered black derby hat. Officer was transported by patrol wagon to the Canalport Avenue Station where he was placed in Lieutenant Haines private office. He was later removed and taken to Peter Smith’s undertaking rooms located at 165 West 18th Street (present day 43 West 18th Street).
A bridge tender, Christ Brinkman, of the 18th Street bridge also heard the gunfire as well as saw the muzzle flash of the gun. Brinkman was unable to see which way the assailant fled. The only clew was the hat. The hat was so old that there were no means to identify its maker but was once a fairly good quality, and was about a 7 in size. Patrolmen Conway and Homer arrested James Santa, 18, of 112 West 18th Street (present day 564 West 18th Street), two hours after the shooting at 18th and Jefferson Streets. Santa was stopped due to his suspicious appearance, without a hat, and his strange actions led to his arrest. He was brought to the station for questioning. His answers were contradictory in relation to his movements that night, but he continued to protest that he knew nothing about a murder.
Also arrested were John Bennett, Joseph Cronin, Daniel Galvan and Austin Keating. None of the four men were charged with murder, but were being held because investigators believed they could provide information on Santa’s whereabouts. At 2:30 a.m. the same night, Peter M. McLean was arrested at 22nd and Union Streets. He was found to be carrying a revolver, which was recently fired once. He was also wearing a hat, which was said to be too small for him.
Further investigation led investigators to believe that three men attempted to rob Sergeant O’Connell and when he drew his service revolver, two of the men fled. It was believed the third man, George Henchik, remained drawing his own revolver and fired striking Sergeant O’Connell in his chest. Henchik was well known to police in the precinct as a leader of thieves. On May 5, 1900, George Henchik was arrested and held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner. He was arrested in possession of a revolver and denied any knowledge of the attempted robbery and murder. On September 18, 1900, he was acquitted by a jury in Judge Holdom’s room.
Sergeant O’Connell was laid to rest on May 2, 1900 in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. His grave was located in Lot S5, Block 12, Section S. On April 28, 1902, his grave was relocated to Lot S21, Block 40, Section Y.
Desk Sergeant Timothy S. O’Connell, born in 1869, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on May 12, 1882. In 1897, he was promoted to Desk Sergeant.
Sergeant O’Connell was survived by his wife, Margaret O (nee Shelley). and children: Enos, Helen T., Gertrude.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department homicide file, Case #1822.
Ironically, Sergeant O’Connell’s star number was reissued after his death to Sergeant Walter J. Riley, who was also killed in the Line of Duty on October 26, 1926.