Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 11 years, 6 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 22nd District - Maxwell
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 41
Date of Birth: 30 Oct 1890
Date of Appointment: 08 Jan 1921
Date of Incident: 04 Jul 1932
End of Watch: 19 Jul 1932
Date of Interment: 21 Jul 1932
Cemetery: St. Joseph Cemetery - River Grove, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 18, Block 5, Section GG
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 33
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 47-E: 10
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Sergeant Frank John Cunningham, Star #60, aged 41 years, was an 11 year, 6 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 22nd District – Maxwell.
On July 4, 1932, shortly after 1:00 a.m., Sergeant Cunningham and his squad, Detectives Dan Masterson, John Hickey and George Davis, were going to their lunch location, Jerry Heinig’s Soda Parlor located at 2025 South Laflin Street, when they observed two cars haphazardly parked outside. Detective Davis walked to a patrol box half a block away to notify the station as to the squad’s whereabouts while the others went into the restaurant. Detective Masterson remained in the squad car for a moment while the sergeant and Detective Hickey went inside the restaurant. Sergeant Cunningham was the first to enter and as he entered, he observed four men committing a robbery. Three of the men had handkerchiefs covering their face. The four bandits were in the process of herding the restaurants’ customers into a backroom. Not knowing the Sergeant and three Detectives were the police, one of the bandits ordered them to line up against the wall with the other patrons. Sergeant Cunningham and Detective Hickey immediately ordered the bandits to drop their weapons while simultaneously drawing their weapons. The bandits replied with a volley of gunfire. Sergeant Cunningham was shot in the chest struck below his heart and fell to the floor. Detective Hickey immediately returned fire while a young Jerry Heinig, age 28, the restaurant owner’s son, picked up Cunningham’s gun and joined the gun battle. Mr. Heinig’s son received a non-life threatening gunshot graze wound to the head as two bandits made good their escape out the back door of the restaurant. The third bandit ducked past Detective Hickey still exchanging gunfire and attempting to slip out the front door was met by Detective Masterson outside. Detective Masterson followed the bandit to a parked car, which was stolen a month earlier from A. D. Walton, and was able to force the bandit to surrender without another shot being fired. Sergeant Cunningham and Jerry Heinig were transported to St. Anthony Hospital. The bandit was transported to the station as were his revolver and four empty shells found in the car. At the station his identity, Harry King, alias Jerry Keane, was learned. King claimed he did not know the names of his accomplices. A search conducted of the District learned that the three missing bandits were last seen getting into a taxicab at 18th Street and Blue Island Avenue. King was later brought to the hospital before Sergeant Cunningham for identification. Cunningham positively identified him as the man who had shot him. Sergeant Cunningham died in the hospital from his wounds 15 days later on July 19, 1932.
Even though King was identified by Sergeant Cunningham he was held by the Coroner for the shooting until July 19, 1932, the day Cunningham died. Harry King, who claimed the police beat a confession out of him, was acquitted March 31, 1933. The fate of the three other accomplices is unknown.
Sergeant Cunningham was waked at C. Kampp & Son Funeral Home located at 318 North Central Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church located at 38 North Austin Boulevard, Oak Park, Illinois. He was laid to rest on July 21, 1932 in St. Joseph Cemetery, 3100 North Thatcher Avenue, River Grove, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 18, Block 5, Section GG.
Sergeant Frank John Cunningham, born October 30, 1890, received a Temporary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on August 5, 1919 prior to his Probationary Appointment to the Department on January 8, 1921. He earned 6 Credible Mentions and 4 Extra Compensations for Meritorious Conduct totaling $600.00 during his career.
Sergeant Cunningham was survived by his fiancée, Frances B. Fisher; parents: Barbara Ellen (nee Nelson) and James and siblings: Alfred A., Helen K. Smith, Margaret Schmicher, Mary D. Hinds and the late James R.