- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PRINCETON, Ind. (AP) - As a young boy in the late 1800s, he probably played in the yard of his family’s home at what would be the 400 block of East Glendale in Princeton.

As a young man, he walked a police beat on the streets of Chicago.

And when he died in the line of duty 80 years ago, Chicago Patrol Officer John Officer’s body was laid to rest at the top of Sand Hill Cemetery.

At 2 p.m. April 13, police officers from Gibson County and the Chicago Police Dept. will honor Officer’s sacrifice with a ceremony at Sand Hill Cemetery west of Princeton, followed by a lunch at Lyles Station School, the Princeton Daily Clarion reports (https://bit.ly/1iZWM8P).

Sheriff George Ballard said he’s been working with Chicago police to find a way to remember the Princeton native. He asked Gibson County Commissioners Tuesday to adopt a resolution commemorating Officer’s sacrifice.

Chicago Police Department’s memorial page says Officer John R. Officer, 43, was walking past Bill’s Bootery located on East 43rd Street on April 13, 1934, when his police instinct took over.

“As he walked past the open store, he noticed it was empty of employees and patrons. The officer drew his weapon and began to walk through the rear of the store, when he was confronted by the robbers. Two of the robbers opened fire and the officer was fatally shot in the heart. The gang of five had managed to put the owner, clerk, and six customers in the basement when the officer interrupted the robbery-in-progress,” the website memorial reports.

As the thieves were leaving the store with their $200 loot, a couple was entering. “They forced the couple to drive them to Lake and Paulina Streets. Upon arriving, the gang exited the vehicle and tipped the hostages $3. The gang: Alonzo McNeal, 20, George Walker, 29, Henry Moore, Noble Easley, and Henry Clements were arrested on April 20, 1934.”

The website notes that the thieves were identified by witnesses and signed written confessions. It was determined that the shots were fired by McNeal and Walker, who were both sentenced to death by electric chair.

Awaiting execution in Cook County Jail, both men petitioned for executive clemency, but were denied by the governor, who found that Officer was wearing his police uniform and was acting in the performance of his duty when the incident occurred.

McNeal and Walker were executed on Oct. 12, 1934. The other three men served lengthy sentences, the website reports.

John Officer was buried at Sand Hill Cemetery.

His grand niece, RoChelle Butler-Nelson, posted a memorial note confirming that Officer’s brother, Elmer, who was also a Chicago PD patrol officer, took over the same beat when Officer was killed.

Ballard said 10 Chicago police officers will drive down for the ceremony, and some members of Officer’s family, who now live in Indianapolis, St. Louis and the Chicago area, have been invited.

The public is invited to commemorate the event, as well.

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