Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 5 years, 5 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Division - Homicide Section
District of Incident (Present Day): 008 - Chicago Lawn
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 36
Date of Birth: 27 Dec 1916
Date of Appointment: 27 Apr 1948
Date of Incident: 08 Oct 1953
End of Watch: 08 Oct 1953
Date of Interment: 12 Oct 1953
Cemetery: St. Joseph Cemetery - River Grove, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot Sub 3 & S1/2 - Sub 1-17, Block 3, Section U
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 15
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 48
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 11-E: 25
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: YES, Branch Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Oreste E. Gonzalez, Star #6362, aged 36 years, was a 5 year, 5 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Division - Homicide Section.
On October 8, 1953, at approximately 3:00 a.m., Detective Gonzalez and his partner, Detective Robert V. Walsh, were working car #56. They were investigating a radio broadcast of a robbery of a taxi cab driver, Louis Lukadunos, age 60, wherein the cab and $35.00 were taken at 57th Street and Rockwell Avenue. While en route to the scene of the crime a second broadcast reported the recovery of the stolen taxi at 74th Street and Western Avenue. The two detectives were driving Southbound on Western Avenue, armed with a description of the man wanted for the holdup. The detectives observed a man that fit the description of the robber standing in front of the White Castle Hamburgers at 71st Street holding a bag of sandwiches. They stopped the man with their guns drawn. Detective Gonzalez searched the man from the front while his partners search him from behind. Also searching the White Castle bag, the detectives were satisfied the man was unarmed. The man identified himself as, Charles Metzger, age 27 of 6915 South Yale Street. Metzger agreed to accompany the officers in the squad car for a show up. Detective Walsh drove and Detective Gonzalez sat in the back seat with Metzger.
Arriving on scene of the recovery at 74th Street and Western Avenue, Detective Walsh made a U-turn and then a right hand turn to bring their squad car near the taxi and the 16th district squad cars. Without warning a fusillade of shots broke out in the rear seat of the squad car, Detective Gonzalez exchanging gunfire with Metzger. Detective Gonzalez was shot with a .25 caliber automatic pistol which Metzger managed to keep concealed when he was seized and searched by Gonzalez and Walsh a few minutes earlier. Detective Walsh later recalled to a Chicago Tribune reporter “I released the wheel and attempted to draw my revolver. The left front door flew open and I fell out. The squad car rolled by me and sideswiped another squad car.” At that point Detective Walsh jumped to his feet and ran to his squad car to find Detective Gonzalez and Metzger in the back seat. Detective Gonzalez was upright with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Metzger was slumped over with his head resting on Gonzalez’ knees. Walsh quickly removed a semi-automatic pistol from Metzger’s hand and then jumped in the car driving to Holy Cross Hospital. Both Detective Gonzalez and Metzger were pronounced dead on arrival.
Charles Metzger was later identified as the holdup man by Lukadunos. Metzger’s latent fingerprint history revealed him to be an ex-convict who was released from Joliet Penitentiary on April 20, 1953. He was released after serving only 2 1/2 years of three concurrent sentences of three to six years each for armed robbery. Prior to that he had served five years in the federal reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio, for manslaughter after killing a fellow service man during a brawl in Germany shortly after World War II.
Chief of Detectives John T. O'Malley later remarked that he did not believe the policemen were at fault when they failed to find Metzger's gun. He said, “The prisoner might have had the little weapon concealed in his sleeve, or a trouser leg, or even in a bag of sandwiches he was reported to have been carrying.“
During a Coroner's inquest, State's Attorney Gutknecht accused the state parole board of “sloppy sentimentalism“ in freeing an ex-convict. He also said, “we cannot survive in this polyglot city if parole boards release men with records such as Metzger's when convict's mothers appear to play upon the sympathy of the board.“
Detective Gonzalez was waked at McCampbell Mortuary located at 6453 West Irving Park Road and his funeral mass was held at St. Priscilla's Church located at 6949 West Addison Street. He was laid to rest on October 12, 1953 in St. Joseph Cemetery, 3100 North Thatcher Avenue, River Grove, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot Sub 3 & S1/2 - Sub 1-17, Block 3, Section U.
Detective Oreste Ernie Gonzalez, born December 27, 1916, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 27, 1948.
Detective Gonzalez served in the Armed Forces. He was a member of Chicago Police Post No. 207 American Legion and the Miles Post No. 7712 Veterans of Foreign Wars. Detective Gonzalez was survived by his expectant wife, Helen; mother, Josephine and siblings: Fred, Joseph and Josephine Mannella. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph.
On December 22, 1953, at 1:00 a.m., Mrs. Gonzalez gave birth to a 7lb 3oz baby girl, Pamela Gonzalez, Detective Oreste's first child. On October 8, 1953, Lieutenant John Golden of the Homicide Bureau made a promise. Ms. Gonzalez had gone into labor. She called one taxicab company, and another, but was unable to get a cab. Desperate after almost an hour Mrs. Gonzalez remembered Lieutenant Golden's promise that he and his men would do anything they could to help her if she ever needed them. She telephoned the homicide bureau, and told her plight to Thomas Wall, the clerk. Detectives Andrew Meade and Joseph Mahoney sped to Gonzalez home in a squad car and took her to St. Anne's hospital where she gave birth.