Police Department

History

Lieutenant Arthur J. Briggs – EOW April 28, 1908

On the afternoon of April 28, 1908, Duluth Police Lt. Arthur J. Briggs, a 21-year police veteran, was dispatched to Sam Ling's laundry at 418 N. Central Ave. in West Duluth. A drunken man had passed out and was in a shed around back.

The man awakened and became belligerent when Briggs approached. A struggle ensued, and when a passer-by saw the fracas, he came to the aid of the officer. The passer-by gained control of the man, noticing then that Briggs was on the ground and not moving.

News of the incident spread quickly and within minutes, more than 1,000 angry people gathered, demanding justice.

A doctor calmed the mob, offering assurances that the officer had not been shot. An autopsy revealed Briggs' heart ruptured during the struggle.

A native of Ireland and a carpenter by trade, Briggs was survived by his wife and seven children. His funeral was the largest that had ever been held in Duluth to that date. More than 5,000 people overflowed Holy Apostles Episcopal Church at 57th Avenue West and Elinor Street.

Bio

  • Age 53
  • Tour 21 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Heart attack

Harry A. Chesmore – EOW January 5, 1911

On Jan. 6, 1911, at the McKay Hotel -- at Fifth Avenue West and First Street, where the News Tribune is now located -- a clerk was bound, the victim of a robbery, and two 16-year-old suspects fled on foot.

Suspecting they might head to Superior, Duluth Police Chief Chauncey Troyer ordered 26-year-old patrolman Harry A. Chesmore, on the job just six months, to head over to the Interstate Bridge. That's where Chesmore apprehended the two. He put them on a train to take them to the jail downtown, taking the seat facing them. At Sixth Avenue West, the conductor argued with a passenger, causing Chesmore to turn away from his prisoners. In that moment, one of them drew a revolver and shot Chesmore in the head, killing him instantly. The suspects fled, but later were apprehended and sent to prison in Stillwater, Minn. Both died of tuberculosis, one while still incarcerated and the other after being released.

A native of Janesville, Wis., Chesmore was a structural iron worker by trade. He was unmarried.

Bio

  • Age 25
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Both deceased

Neil J. Mooney – EOW January 6, 1914

In New Duluth on Jan. 8, 1914, Officer Neil J. Mooney arrested two men for carrying concealed weapons. He confiscated their revolvers. On the way to the neighborhood police station, however, one of the men produced a second revolver and shot Mooney in the stomach. Mooney grabbed the gun and beat the shooter over the head with it until both men ran off.

Mooney then crawled half a block to the Gary Realty office at Gary and Commonwealth avenues, where help was summoned. He was taken to the hospital in West Duluth at 302 N. Central Ave., and before succumbing to his injuries, provided information that led to the men's arrests.

Mooney was 32 and a native of South Boston.

Bio

  • Age 32
  • Tour 1 year
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Monday, January 5, 1914
  • Weapon Handgun; Revolver
  • Offender Sentenced to life

John H. Callahan – EOW August 6, 1918

John Callahan

Officer John H. Callahan, on his walking beat in downtown Duluth on Aug. 6, 1918, spotted a robbery suspect and gave chase. In a railroad yard, the suspect turned and fired a sawed-off rifle. Callahan fell but was able to return fire and wound the suspect before succumbing to his injuries.

Sergeant David A. Butchart – EOW October 6, 1933

A citywide search was launched Oct. 6, 1933, after an 8-year-old boy fell asleep in his parents' car and the car was stolen. Duluth Police Sgt. David A. Butchart, 71, was stopping and searching vehicles when struck by a passing motorist. He died from internal injuries, a compound leg fracture and the loss of blood. The motorist who hit him fled but was apprehended later and charged.

Later, the boy was found. The car thieves dropped him off downtown. He walked home unharmed.

Bio

  • Age 71
  • Tour 34 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Struck by vehicle

Lieutenant Oscar G. Olson – EOW December 1, 1941

Duluth's police chief from 1935 to 1939, Lt. Oscar G. Olson was one of three officers summoned by neighbors to an upstairs apartment at 2212 W. First St. on Dec. 2, 1941. A man, neighbors said, had a shotgun and had locked himself in a bedroom.

Olson, leading the way, ordered the man to open the door. He refused, and when officers pushed their way in, the man opened fire. Officers shot back and forced the man backwards, onto a bed, where his weapon was taken away. The suspect was shot three times. Olson was hit in the left side of the chest and in the left arm, just above the elbow.

Olson was 54, a police veteran of 33 years.

Bio

  • Age 54
  • Tour 33 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Shot and killed

Carl R. Root – EOW August 18, 1966

Carl Root

At 4 a.m., on the night of July 11, 1966, Duluth Police Patrol Sgt. Carl R. Root was working alone downtown. Just three blocks from police headquarters, at 113 W. Second St., he stopped a vehicle occupied by two males, ages 16 and 19. As Root, in full uniform, spoke with one of the teens, the other jumped him. The two knocked Root to the ground, beat him unconscious with a tire iron, took his .38 caliber revolver, and shot him three times.

Root, left paralyzed, died a little more than a month later at St. Luke's Hospital. He had been with the force 24 years.

He was survived by his wife and daughter.

Bio

  • Age Not available
  • Tour 24 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Wednesday, July 6, 1966
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Not charged with murder

Gary D. Wilson – EOW April 10, 1990

Gary Wilson

Gary D. Wilson was one of six Duluth officers searching the Seaway Hotel in Lincoln Park/West End for a murder suspect on the night of April 10, 1990. The suspect was in a room, and when officers knocked on the door and identified themselves, he opened fire with a .30 caliber military rifle. Wilson was struck twice by shots that passed through the wall. Other officers returned fire, wounding the suspect before taking him into custody.

Duluth Police Officer John Hartley also was injured and later recovered.

Wilson was 34 and had been a Duluth police officer for 11 years.

Bio

  • Age 34
  • Tour 11 years
  • Badge 244

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Monday, April 9, 1990
  • Weapon Rifle; .30 caliber
  • Offender Apprehended

Sources: Information on this page came from multiple sources, including Chaplain John Hammack of the St. Louis County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy program, the Duluth Police Department, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, News Tribune archives, and Officer Down Memorial Page Inc.