Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 28 years, 3 months, 26 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 7th District - Woodlawn
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 55
Date of Birth: 01 Oct 1907
Date of Appointment: 13 Oct 1933
Date of Incident: 28 Dec 1936
End of Watch: 09 Oct 1962
Date of Interment: 12 Oct 1962
Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 6, Block 41, Section --
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-10
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 9
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall:
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Inclusion Request Declined
Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Nicholas Michael Connelly, Star #3673, aged 55 years, was a retired 28 year, 3 month, 26 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, from the 7th District – Woodlawn.
On September 28, 1936, Detective Connelly, age 26 and his friend, Detective Charles W. Stine, age 54, were off duty and in civilian clothing at Rehling’s Tavern at 203 East 69th Street. Two parolees, Norman Cravens, age 21 and Clarence Lukesch, age 21 entered the tavern, drew their pistols and announced a robbery. A third offender, Fred Meyers, age 20, waited outside in a stolen getaway car. As the two men announced the robbery, Detectives’ Connelly and Stine drew their weapons and a gun battle ensued. A third, Retired disabled Policeman, Charles Colgrove, age 53, was also on scene and used his cane to fell Lukesch. In all 25 shots were fired. Detective Connelly was shot six times and sustained wounds to the left side, lung, right arm, right hand and both legs. He was transported to St. Bernard’s Hospital in serious condition. Detective Stine was shot just below the heart and was also transported to St. Bernard’s Hospital reportedly near death. Louis Halberg, age 60, a porter in the tavern, was shot twice but not seriously hurt. One of the gunman, Norman Cravens, was shot dead while Lukesch was captured unharmed by a responding officer, Detective Timothy O’Connor. The third offender, Fred Meyers, fled the scene in the getaway car once the shooting started. He was arrested later at his residence.
Further investigation revealed that the group of three was paroled from Pontiac Reformatory on February 14, 1962. They had robbed 50 small businesses since being paroled. Arrest records showed that Meyer and Lukesch were sentenced to one year to life imprisonment on March 21, 1934 after they pleaded guilty to robbing the store of Sam Fiengeruth located at 2339 West Howard Street. Both were paroled after serving less than two years of their sentence. In 1934 the two were indicted on five counts of robbery, two counts of burglary and one count of larceny. Ironically, parole board records indicated that the two “had no previous criminal records.“ Norman Cravens was also paroled to Danville, Illinois after serving four years for a different crime. He left Danville in violation of his parole to commit the robbery.
Lukesch and Meyers stood trial and were convicted. On November 10, 1936, they were sentenced to life in prison as habitual criminals by Chief Justice Michael McKinley. In addition to their sentence they were classified as parole violators and ordered to serve out their original sentences too.
Detective Stine survived the shooting but never fully recovered and suffered from extreme pain and chronic nephritis. Due to his medical issues, Detective Stine would enter the Disability Pension Roll (DPR) on December 10, 1937 and later resigned from the Department on April 1, 1938. In his last days he lived in the Fitch Nursing Home located at 11410 South Forrestville Avenue. These medical complications all led to Stine’s death on April 21, 1952.
Detective Connelly also survived the shooting but never fully recovered and suffered from extreme pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Due to his medical issues, Detective Connelly would enter the Disability Pension Roll (DPR) on December 10, 1937 and later resign from the Department on April 1, 1938. Detective Connelly also suffered from chronic lead poisoning from the two bullets that were left in his body and later developed cancer. He passed away on October 9, 1962 at Little Company of Mary Hospital from complications resulting from his line of duty injury. According to Dr. Nancy Jones, retired Chief Medical Examiner of Cook County, those complications all led to Detective Connelly’s early death.
Detective Connelly was waked at J. Leo O’Neill Funeral Home located at 1136 West 87th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Kilian Church located at 8725 South May Street. He was laid to rest on October 12, 1962 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 6, Block 41, Section –.
Detective Nicholas Michael Connelly, born October 1, 1907, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 13, 1933.
Detective Connelly a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. He was survived by his wife, Eileen (nee Sullivan) and children: Lynne, Michael, Nicholas and Patrick; mother, Catherine; siblings: Catherine (nee Hughes), John and Thomas J. and three grandchildren.
Paperwork for inclusion on the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund (NLEOMF) was submitted in January 2016 by the Chicago Police Department. On October 28, 2016, the Chicago Police Department received word that the NLEOMF did not approve Detective Connelly’s name for inclusion on their wall as a “Line of Duty“ death. NLEOMF stated the circumstances of Detective Connelly’s death did not meet their criteria for inclusion because their pathologist was unable to link the cause of death to the initial injury.
On July 17, 2018, Detective Connelly’s star was retired by Superintendent of Police Eddie T. Johnson and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.