Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 36 years, 11 months, 3 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 5th District - Kensington
District of Incident (Present Day): 005 - Calumet
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 62
Date of Birth: 28 Aug 1907
Date of Appointment: 25 Mar 1933
Date of Incident: 28 Jan 1970
End of Watch: 28 Jan 1970
Date of Interment: 31 Jan 1970
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 4, Lot 63, Block 10, Section 24
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-5
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 5
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 20
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 60-E: 11
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Navy
Incident & Biographic Details
Lieutenant James Eunis O'Connor, Jr., Star #434, aged 62 years, was a 36 year, 11 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 5th District - Kensington.
On January 28, 1970, at 12:10 a.m., Lieutenant O'Connor and Patrolman Raymond Calabrese were visiting a retired policeman at Imperial Credit Company located at 11048 South Michigan Avenue, a South Side loan office where he now worked. While in a backroom an armed robber, Michael Miller, age 20, of 7262 West 21st Street, entered the establishment. Miller, attempting to rob the business, had a gun in one hand and the other hand covered his face for a disguise. Lieutenant O'Connor had a clear shot at the 20-year-old gunman but instead lunged at him attempting to disarm him and spare his life. In the struggle, Miller’s gun discharged and the bullet struck the lieutenant in the head mortally wounding him. Miller then fled on foot.
Two detectives were in the neighborhood on an investigation and saw the struggle from across the street from inside a restaurant. Detectives John L. Sullivan and Peter Valesares, across the street using a payphone, saw the muzzle flash of the gun. The detectives and Officer Calabrese gave chase. They cornered Miller in a parking lot located at 111th and State Streets. A gun battle ensued and Miller was taken into custody. A .38 caliber revolver with two empty chambers was recovered. Miller’s accomplice, Ronald Johnson, age 33, of 526 Lincoln Avenue, Calumet City, Illinois, who had been waiting in the getaway car near the credit company, was also arrested. Lieutenant O'Connor was transported to Roseland Community Hospital by beat 670 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Esau at 2:00 p.m. on January 28, 1970.
During questioning Michael Miller confessed to the murder of Lieutenant O'Connor. Both Miller and Johnson were charged with murder. On March 20, 1970, Johnson was found hanged in his cell at Cook County Jail. Following his accomplices suicide, Miller pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison. Miller was also sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempted armed robbery.
Lieutenant O'Connor was waked at Sheehy Funeral Home located at 8343 South Ashland Avenue and his funeral mass was held at St. John Fisher Church located at 10234 South Washtenaw Avenue. He was laid to rest on January 31, 1970 in Holy Sephulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Worth, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 4, Lot 63, Block 10, Section 24.
Lieutenant James Eunis O'Connor, Sr., born August 28, 1907, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 25, 1933. In April, 1965, he was cited by Deputy Superintendent of Inspectional Services Joseph Morris for his consistent good work in the Division. Among his other citations was a letter of commendation in April, 1961 from former States Attorney Daniel P. Ward for an excellent investigation of a case. In September, 1947, he was promoted to Sergeant. On August 1, 1954, he was promoted to Lieutenant. Ironically, at the time of his death, Lieutenant O'Connor was planning to retire in August.
Lieutenant O'Connor served in the U.S. Navy, was a veteran of World War II and was Honorably Discharged. He was also a member of the Chicago Police Lieutenant’s Association and the St. Jude Police League. Lieutenant O'Connor was survived by his wife, Theresa (nee DuBois), age 57; children: James Eunis, III, Kathleen, Mary Theresa Ormsby, Patricia and Timothy J. and siblings: Edward (CPD), Rosemary (CPD) and John J. (CPD). Hew was preceded in death by his parents: James Eunis, Sr. and Mary Ellen (nee Kelly).
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #J034265.