CHICAGO — It’s never too late to honor the bravery of a fallen hero. Seventy years ago, Detective Nicholas Connelly was shot by armed robbers. He lived with lead poisoning for almost three decade.
The honor goes to those who die in the line of duty. For son Michael Connelly, it was a long wait.
“I’ve been working on it for a little over 30 years,” Michael Connelly said. “Phil Cline, the former commissioner, was sympathetic and took an interest in it to make sure it’s going to happen.”
Detective Connelly was just 27 years old in 1936 when he was wounded in a shootout at a South Side tavern near 69th and Indiana.
“Three bandits walked into the store, the tavern, and started shooting and the gun battle ensued. My father caught six slugs. The other guy, the other gentleman, his partner, was mortally wounded and died a few days later,” Michael said.
Detective Connelly was shot several times, and carried the lead slugs in his body for the rest of his life.
“He had severe lead poisoning,” Michael said.
Neither man’s death was considered “in the line of duty” and their police stars were not retired. Connelly’s partner, Chicago Police Officer Michael Stein, was off-duty at the time of the shooting; and Detective Connelly lived another 27 years.
On July 30, Detective Connelly’s name will be added to the Chicago Police Department’s Fallen Hero Memorial near Soldier Field.