Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 15 years, 3 months, 1 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 28th District - Austin
District of Incident (Present Day): 011 - Harrison
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Friendly (Accidental)
Age at Time of Death: 40
Date of Birth: 23 Dec 1903
Date of Appointment: 02 Jul 1929
Date of Incident: 03 Oct 1944
End of Watch: 03 Oct 1944
Date of Interment: 05 Oct 1944
Cemetery: Mount Carmel Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 2, Lot W 9' of 64, Block 11, Section 32
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 6
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 43
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 31-E: 14
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Stephan Ellwood Egan, Star #6257, aged 39 years, was a 15 year, 3 month, 1 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 28th District – Austin.
On October 3, 1944, Detective Egan and his partner, Detective John Rich, were working the 1st Watch and were driving in Detective Egan’s personal vehicle equipped with a police radio that could only receive transmissions. This was not an uncommon practice at the time for detectives to use their personal vehicles, due to shortages of unmarked police vehicles. Uniformed officers were aware of the detectives and their personal vehicles. At 12:50 a.m., they monitored a call for a burglary in progress at 550 North Avers Avenue. Dressed in civilian clothing they responded.
The owner of the building, Michael Diamond, heard some noise in his garage where he kept a safe and stock for a candy business he operated. He saw a flashlight and individuals moving around inside of the garage and phoned the police. Car No. 121, Patrolmen Rudolph Frana and Alfred Timm, arrived on scene in the rear of the property, at the same time Detectives Egan and Rich arrived on scene at the intersection of Ohio Street and Avers Avenue. Mr. Diamond saw the uniformed police and began to yell, “They are running through the gangway!“ The offenders were fleeing in a North Easterly direction through a vacant lot to the North of 552 North Avers Avenue directly towards the detectives. The officers gave chase and observed a flash of gunfire. The gunfire came from Detective Egan who had fired a round in the air. Thinking the offenders had fired at responding officer, Officer Frana fired three times in the general direction of the man who had fired first shot. The officers then saw the man slump to the ground. They ran over and it was at this time they learned that the man down was Detective Egan. The first two rounds missed Detective Egan and as he turned to identify himself, the third shot struck him in his femoral artery causing him to collapse and bleed out.
Just as the officers discovered the tragedy, Car No. 160, Patrolmen John Dolan and James Stanton, arrived on scene. They immediately put Detective Egan in their car and transported him to St. Anne Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival on October 3, 1944.
Later in the afternoon on October 3, 1944, Detective Bert Devine arrested three Juveniles, Mike Cutish, age 16, of 422 North Harding Avenue; Nickoll Gollsh, age 14, of 516 North Avers and John Trzbyski, age 18, of 455 North Harding Avenue. The boys later confessed to breaking into the garage and phoning each other all morning to see if anyone had been wounded. All three boys were later charged with burglary.
Officer Egan’s funeral mass was held at Our Lady Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church located at 822 North LeClaire Avenue. He was laid to rest on October 5, 1944 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road #4, Hillside, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 2, Lot W 9′ of 64, Block 11, Section 32.
Detective Stephan Ellwood Egan, born December 23, 1904, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on July 2, 1929. He earned 12 Credible Mentions and 2 Extra Compensations for Meritorious Conduct totaling $200.00 during his career. Prior to joining the Chicago Police Department Detective Ellwood was a Fireman for the City of Chicago.
Officer Egan was a member of the Chicago Police Benevolent & Protective Association, Holy Name Society and St. Joseph’s Guild. He was survived by his wife, Mary G. (nee Van Patten), age 35; son, Ellwood Charles Egan, age 6 and siblings: Agnes, age 40, Margaret, age 45 and William (CFD), age 50. His son, Ellwood would later become a Chicago Police Officer.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department Case #44-317.
On May 25, 2006, Detective Ellwood’s star was retired by Superintendent Philip J. Cline and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.