Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 4 years, 10 months, 3 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 5th District - Wabash
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 34
Date of Birth: 24 Dec 1909
Date of Appointment: 13 Feb 1940
Date of Incident: 16 Dec 1944
End of Watch: 16 Dec 1944
Date of Interment: 20 Dec 1944
Cemetery: Elmwood Cemetery - Sycamore, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 43
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 17-W: 5
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman James Ezra Caldwell, Star #2969, aged 34 years, was a 4 year, 10 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 5th District - Wabash.
On December 16, 1944, Patrolman Ezra Caldwell and Patrolman Samuel M. Black were working beat 151 when they responded to radio call of a domestic disturbance at 5147 South Prairie Avenue in the first floor apartment. Officer Black was the first to enter the building and was met by Kermit Bredlove in the hallway. Bredlove asked Officer Black if he was looking for him and when Black said yes Bredlove drew his firearm and shot him at point-blank range in the face. Officer Black collapsed to the floor dying shortly after while Bredlove took his service revolver. Officer Caldwell, while in the squad car, heard the gunfire and went to investigate while Bredlove proceeded down the hallway and exited the building onto the front steps. It was on the steps where he was confronted by Officer Caldwell. Bredlove fired at Caldwell who returned fire and struck Bredlove three times. Officer Caldwell then attempted to take cover behind a truck parked on the street when he slipped. It was at this time Bredlove fired another round which would eventually prove fatal to Officer Caldwell.
Officer Caldwell continued to return fire until beat 162 arrived at the scene. Patrolman James McKenna exited his squad car and immediately fired at Bredlove after seeing Officer Caldwell lying on the ground gravely wounded. Bredlove was eventually arrested and sustained more than six gunshots to the chest and abdominal area during the shootout. Officer’s Black and Caldwell were transported to Provident Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival. Bredlove was taken to the Bridewell Hospital where he would later recover from his injuries.
Further investigation revealed that Bredlove had killed his wife, Goldine, just prior to the two officers arriving on the scene. The two had been arguing because Kermit Bredlove believed his wife had been flirting with another man at a party. Bredlove had shot his wife six time which caused neighbors to call for police.
Kermit Bredlove was charged with three counts of murder. He stood trial and on March 9, 1945 was found guilty and sentenced to 199 years in jail. On April 18, 1945, his sentence was amended, by a guilty verdict in the murder of Officer Black, to death by the electric chair. On September 14, 1945, Bredlove was executed in the electric chair.
Officer Caldwell was laid to rest on December 20, 1944 in Elmwood Cemetery, 901 South Cross Street, Sycamore, Illinois.
Patrolman James Ezra Caldwell, born December 24, 1909, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 13, 1940.
Officer Caldwell was survived by his wife, Catherine (nee Doolittle), age 37.
NOTE: At some point after the 1930 Census and before 1934, when he was married, Officer Caldwell stopped using his first name, James, and went by the name Ezra Caldwell.