Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 16 years, 4 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 28th District - Austin
District of Incident (Present Day): 025 - Grand Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 45
Date of Birth: 11 Mar 1893
Date of Appointment: 09 Jun 1922
Date of Incident: 20 Oct 1938
End of Watch: 20 Oct 1938
Date of Interment: 24 Oct 1938
Cemetery: Irving Park Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 14
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 41
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 4-E: 12
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Alfred Olson, Star #5397, aged 45 years, was a 16 year, 4 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 28th District – Austin.
On October 20, 1938, at 9:48 a.m., Officer Olson was on duty and in uniform, walking with a cashier, Harold Osmundsen, from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company located at 3208 West North Avenue. Officer Olson was escorting the cashier to the Pioneer Trust and Savings Bank located at 4000 West North Avenue. Osmundsen was carrying a satchel containing $2000.00 to be deposited at the bank. At the intersection of North and Harding Avenues, on the Southwest corner, they were accosted by two bandits. One of the bandits, whom had been loitering in a doorway, jumped between the officer and the cashier. He put a gun to the cashier and grabbed the money bag then fled Southbound on Harding Avenue on foot. Officer Olson attempted to pursue the bandit when the other bandit struck the officer from behind with a length of lead filled rubber hose. Officer Olson, stunned from the blow, staggered forward in pursuit of the thief who was running with the money bag. At the same time, he was trying to draw his revolver when the second bandit shot him in the back. The gunman then fled on foot Eastbound on North Avenue. Officer Olson was taken to Danish-American Hospital and died shortly after arriving.
Investigators recovered the length of hose near the scene, a zipper jacket worn by one of the bandits and the murder weapon, an Iverson Johnson Revolver. Neighborhood shopkeepers and shoppers were able to give detectives good descriptions of the two bandits, but no solid identification could be obtained. At a Coroner’s inquest on October 21, 1938, the verdict of “murder by unknown men“ was returned.
Officer Olson was laid to rest on October 24, 1938 in Irving Park Cemetery, 7777 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman John Alfred Olson, born March 11, 1893, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 9, 1922. He earned 1 Credible Mention and 1 Extra Compensation for Meritorious Conduct totaling $180.00 during his career.
Officer Olson was survived by his wife, Dorothy Anna (nee Johnson), age 41 and children: Alice Louise, age 18, LaVergne May, age 16 and Richard Eugene, age 20.