Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 24 years, 1 month, 16 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 2nd District - Prarie
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 54
Date of Birth: 08 Aug 1898
Date of Appointment: 22 Mar 1929
Date of Incident: 06 May 1953
End of Watch: 08 May 1953
Date of Interment: 12 May 1953
Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 47
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 18-E: 5
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Charles Christ Kraatz, Star #5702, aged 54 years, was a 24 year, 1 month, 16 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 2nd District – Prarie.
On May 6, 1953, a little after 9:00 p.m., Officer Kraatz and his partner, Patrolman John Sullivan, were working plainclothes on the 3rd watch in the squadrol, beat 281. The officers responded to investigate a report that a man was brandishing and firing a gun in the hallway of an apartment building at 724 East 36th Street. As they arrived on scene, beat 295, Patrolmen Julian Ford and William Page working another squadrol, arrived on scene as well. Upon arriving at the scene, Officers Kraatz, Ford and Page exited the squadrols, while Officer Sullivan pulled his squadrol into an open space at the curb. The attention of the three officers was drawn to a crowd of people at the corner of 36th Street and Ellis Avenue. As the officers approached, and at approximately 10 feet from the crowd, some of the crowd’s participants alerted the officers to James Knight, age 45 of 3601 South Ellis Avenue. They stated that Knight had the gun. Officer Kraatz commanded Knight to turn the weapon over to him, and walked toward him whereupon James Knight fired point blank at Officer Kraatz. As Kraatz fell to the ground, wounded, he returned fire shooting one time while James Knight fired two more shots at him. Kraatz was struck in the right shoulder, stomach and hip. Officers’ Ford and Page also returned fire, emptying their revolvers. Officer Kraatz was transported to Michael Reese Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:20 p.m. on May 8, 1953. James Knight was struck several times by gunfire and died on scene. He was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m. on May 6, 1953.
Records later showed that Knight was on probation for carrying a concealed weapon.
Officer Kraatz was waked at W. W. Stern & Sons Funeral Home. His funeral mass was held at Atonement Evangelical Lutheran Church located at 7001 South Laflin Street. He was laid to rest on May 12, 1953 in Evergreen Cemetery, 3401 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois.
Patrolman Charles Christ Kraatz, born August 8, 1898, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on March 22, 1929.
Officer Kraatz served in the U.S. Army from August 29, 1918 thru February 24, 1919 in Headquarters & Supply Company FATB, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Private. He was also a Master Mason and a member of Mizpah Lodge No. 768 AF&AM, Chicago Police Post No. 207 American Legion, and the St. Jude Police League. Officer Kraatz was survived by his wife, Gertrude (nee VanArsdale), age 51; daughter, Bernice, age 29 and Gertrude M, age 32; grandson, James; and siblings: Amollia, Bertha, George and Mathilda He was preceded in death by his daughter, LaVern Matilda, age 0 months; parents: Herman and Ida (nee Lingenhager) and brother henry.