Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 1 year, 7 months, 19 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 7th District - Englewood
District of Incident (Present Day): 007 - Englewood
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 26
Date of Birth: 13 Mar 1941
Date of Appointment: 17 Oct 1966
Date of Incident: 05 Jun 1968
End of Watch: 05 Jun 1968
Date of Interment: 10 Jun 1968
Cemetery: Restvale Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 16
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 17
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 15-W: 16
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Henry L. Peeler, Star #11174, aged 26 years, was a 1 year, 7 month, 19 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 7th District – Englewood.
On June 5, 1968, at 9:00 p.m., Officer Peeler and his partner, Patrolman Ronald J. Lillwitz, age 30, were working the third watch on beat 702. The officers observed four men; Lyon Herbert, age 21, of 1108 Pennsylvania Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois, Randolph Preston, age 30, of 5659 South Morgan Street, Raymond Sharp, age 20, of 1401 St. Louis Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois, and Charles Childress, age 30, of East St. Louis, Illinois. The men were sitting on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building located at 5649 South Morgan Street. They had a paper bag between them with an open liquor container inside. The manner in which the men were sitting was blocking the sidewalk so that passerby couldn’t pass. The officers stopped their car and as they approached Herbert and Sharp fled northbound on foot. As the chase initiated Officer Lillwitz yelled halt and put your hands up in the air. Sharp stopped and complied but Herbert continued to flee. Officer Peeler gave chase and followed Herbert as he fled into a gangway at 5659 South Morgan Street while his partner took custody of Sharp. While placing Sharp in custody, Officer Lillwitz recovered a .32 caliber Liberty revolver tucked in his belt. Meanwhile as Officer Peeler turned the corner into the gangway Herbert fired five times. Officer Peeler was struck and collapsed to the ground. Officer Lillwitz, hearing the gunshots, grabbed Sharp by the neck and ran with him to the gangway to assist his partner. Nearing the gangway he released Sharp and turned the corner. As he did he observed his partner lying on the ground and then saw Herbert rise up from behind some bushes, point a gun at him, and fire several shots. Officer Lillwitz returned fire striking Herbert and fatally wounding him. Just as the second round of gunfire occurred, assisting officers, beat 706, Patrolmen W. Anderson and H. Medidi arrived on scene and took control of Sharp at the direction of Officer Lillwitz. Sharp was attempting to blend into a crowd that had gathered and was re-apprehended by Officer Anderson after a lengthy struggle. Officer Medidi then went to aid Officer Peeler and found him lying face down bleeding profusely from his face and neck. Officer Peeler was shot once in the right jaw, once in the throat, twice in the left hand and sustained a graze wound to the left ear. He was transported to Englewood Hospital by beat 771 and was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Montizone at 9:25 p.m. on June 5, 1968. Officer Lillwitz sustained two gunshot wounds, one to the right forearm and one to the left hand. He was also transported to Englewood Hospital by beat 771 and was treated and released. Herbert Lyons was transported to Englewood Hospital by beat 772 and was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Montizone at 9:25 p.m. on June 5, 1968.
Other responding officers went to Preston’s basement apartment, located at 5659 South Morgan Street, where he was located and placed into custody. He admitted to knowing the other three men and that he knew they were wanted for the shooting of the officer in East St. Louis. Charles Childress was also found hiding behind the boiler and arrested. Recovered in his possession was a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. Childress was charged with Murder and held over to the Grand Jury. Preston was charged with Harboring a fugitive. Sharp was charged with Unlawful Use of Weapon and Resisting Arrest. On August 15, 1968, the Grand Jury returned a True Bill against Childress.
Three of the men were fugitives from East St. Louis, Illinois and were sought for the slaying of Southern Railroad Police Lieutenant Jack Armstrong, two months earlier. After killing Armstrong they stole his .38 caliber Smith & Wesson service revolver, which would later be used by Herbert to murder Officer Peeler. Through further investigation, it was learned that the men were members of an African-American club known as Black Culture, Inc. The group had provided the men with the money needed to flee St. Louis and evade capture.
Officer Peeler’s funeral mass was held at the Open Door Baptist Church located at 1301 South Sawyer Avenue. He was laid to rest on June 10, 1968 in Restvale Cemetery, 11700 South Laramie Street, Alsip, Illinois.
Patrolman Henry L. Peeler, born March 13, 1941, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 17, 1966.
Officer Peeler served in the U.S. Army and was Honorably Discharged. He was survived by his wife, Julia; children: Keely, age 6 and Sherrie, age 4; mother, Blanche and siblings: a sister and two brothers. He was preceded in death by his father.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #G205654 Homicide Case Report and G205886 Justifiable Homicide Case Report.