Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 8 years, 6 months, 24 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 25th District - Fillmore
District of Incident (Present Day): 015 - Austin
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 29 Aug 1898
Date of Appointment: 08 Jun 1922
Date of Incident: 01 Jan 1931
End of Watch: 01 Jan 1931
Date of Interment: 05 Jan 1931
Cemetery: St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery - Niles, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 451, Section 18
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 17
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 29
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 6-E: 4
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John J. Vondruska, Jr., Star #6048, aged 32 years, was an 8 year, 6 month, 24 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 25th District – Fillmore.
On January 1, 1931, at 6:50 a.m., Officer Vondruska was detailed to help prevent robberies and protect the money turned in by the drivers at the Yellow Cab Company garage located at 4950 West Flournoy Street. On New Year’s Day, five armed robbers arrived in two automobiles and entered the facility and yelled “Stick ‘em up.” The robbers were intent on taking the $8,000.00 dollars in payroll. Officer Vondruska, upon seeing the offenders enter, fired the first shot. One of the intruders, armed with a sawed-off shotgun and another with a machine gun then opened fire on Officer Vondruska. A cab driver, William Smith, heard the gunshots and was shot twice in the legs when he ran to assist the wounded officer. Officer Vondruska was transported to F. E. Willard Hospital where he was pronounced dead on January 1, 1931.
Members of the “42“ gang were subsequently arrested. Mike Mercurio, age 24, was arrested later in the day in the Maxwell Street District and found to be wounded by shotgun fire. He was positively identified as one of the bandits. He refused to name his accomplices, but five witnesses were able to identify two of the gunmen from a police photo lineup. The witnesses identified Mike DeSteffano and George Conrad.
On June 29, 1931, Mercurio, on a plea of guilty, was sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Joseph David.
Officer Vondruska was laid to rest on January 5, 1931 in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 451, Section 18.
Patrolman John J. Vondruska, Jr., born August 29, 1898, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 8, 1929.