1971 - 1990 Fallen Heroes
Sergeant Michael Tourmo was responding to a call of a burglary in progress at the North Avenue Smoke Shop, 2533 W. North Ave, at 6:55 on a Sunday morning. He was the first officer on scene and chased two suspects from the scene. The chase went through several yards, and one of the suspects fired as many as eight or nine shots at Sergeant Tourmo. One of those bullets struck Sergeant Tourmo in the head.
Additional officers joined the chase and one suspect surrendered to police. The other suspect continued running but a short distance later threw the gun and surrendered. A third suspect who was not being chased was arrested nearby in connection with the break-in. All three men (ages 20, 29 and 30) all had extensive criminal records.
Sergeant Tourmo had served the Milwaukee Police Department just short of 18 years before he was killed. He was 36-years-old. He left behind his wife Brenda and three children, all under the age of 5.
Around 1:00 a.m. on October 25, 1990, Officer Richard Wagner chased on foot a suspected auto thief who had bailed from a car at the intersection of N. 15th Street and W. Columbia Street. The suspect eluded Officer Wagner and when he returned to his squad car, Officer Wagner collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital and despite tremendous effort, doctors could not revive him. Officer Wagner died of a heart attack.
Officer Wagner was to receive a meritorious duty citation on November 18th, for pulling a wounded officer from the line of fire during a shootout the previous May. Police Chief Philip Arreola gave the award posthumously.
Officer Wagner was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department on November 19, 1973. He was 41-years-old when he died and was survived by his wife Donna, two sons ages 13 and 15, and a 9-year-old daughter.
Officer Steven Hasenstab died on August 19th, 1989, at Froedtert Hospital from injuries sustained in a crash on August 8th, at N. 27th Street and W. Vine Street, while in pursuit of a stolen vehicle.
Officer Hasenstab was a 1979 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where he studied law enforcement. He was 33 years old at the time of his death and he left behind a wife and daughter.
Officer Roger Sterling and his partner were responding to back up another squad in pursuit of a vehicle that refused to stop. It happened around 2:25 a.m. on May 11, 1987 at the intersection of N. 32nd Street and W. Center Street, when they collided with the other squad. Officer Sterling was killed in the crash. The other officers involved in the crash were badly hurt.
A number of officers who responded to the crash were burned as they attempted to free those trapped inside the cars which had exploded and were engulfed in flames.
Officer Sterling was 31 years old at the time of his death and had served for six years.
Officer Dennis Gorlewski was en route to a non-emergency call for police about 1:25 p.m. on March 25, 1987. He stopped in the northbound lane of S. 35th Street, preparing to turn left on W. National Avenue, when he was struck by an dump truck that was traveling eastbound and had run a red light.
Several witnesses reported the dump truck was traveling at a high rate of speed and ran the red light before striking the officer. The force of the impact carried the motorcycle into a pickup truck and pushed them both into a light pole about 50 feet away. Officer Gorlewski was pinned beneath the front of the pickup truck. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex.
The collision occurred just two days after police motorcycles returned to the street from winter storage. Chief Ziarnik ended the practice of using motorcycles year round that winter.
Officer Dennis Gorlewski was 50 years old at the time of his death and was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department in 1960. He became part of the motorcycle unit in 1964. He left behind a wife and two children.
At 9:30 a.m. on March 19th, 1985, Officer Rosario Collura and Officer Leonard Lesnieski were gunned down in an alley by a man who later said that he did it because he did not want to go back to jail.
Officer Collura and Officer Lesnieski interrupted a drug deal at N. 17th Street and W. Center Street. The officers began frisking the men. As one of the men was searched, he pulled a gun and shot both officers in the chest.
Officer Lesnieski died from a bullet to his heart. Officer Collura made it to the hospital and was expected to survive but died about six hours later from uncontrollable bleeding.
Officer Lesnieski was 48 years old and became an officer in March 1969. He moved to the 5th District in April 1984 after 15 years in District 4 on the Northwest Side. He served fours years in the Marine Corps and married his wife Carol when they were 23. They had two daughters.
Officer Collura was 39 years old. He was wounded once before in the line of duty. In 1973, he was one of four officers who were shot during a struggle with a prisoner in the garage of the 5th District. In that incident he was shot twice in the right leg. He was awarded a merit citation for performance above and beyond the call of duty.
Officer Collura had been assigned to the 5th District since his appointment in December 1966. It’s where he had grown up, lived at the time and eventually would die. Only two weeks earlier, he switched from the night shift to the day shift, where he thought he’d be safer.
Officer Collura was married and had three children—two daughters and a son.
On January 30th, 1982, Officer Sydney Snow and his partner headed out in plainclothes working the tavern car, which checks the licenses of neighborhood bars and businesses. They went to Shirley and Sonny’s Pool Hall at 1658 W. Hopkins Street to order in the operator on license violations.
A struggle ensued with the operator who pulled out a .25 caliber handgun and shot Officer Snow. The officer returned fire, as did his partner, killing the man.
Officer Snow was 29 years old and had served with the Milwaukee Police Department for 6 years. He was survived by his wife and parents.
Officer John Machajewski and Officer Charles Mehlberg were killed in the line of duty on December 23rd, 1981.
The suspect went into Alfred’s House of Bourbon shortly before midnight. He had a beer and then grabbed a woman around the neck and held a gun to her head as he announced a robbery. As the bartender was emptying the cash register, the suspect fired a shot at a patron. No one was injured.
The suspect scooped up about $200 in cash, some wallets and the woman’s purse.
As Officers Machajewski and Mehlberg arrived on scene, they saw the suspect running east on W. Brown Street toward N. 2nd Street. They jumped from the squad car and chased the suspect on foot into an alley.
In the alley, behind 210 W. Brown Street, the suspect ambushed and fatally shot both officers. Officer Machajewski died at the scene. Officer Mehlberg was taken to Froedtert Hospital where he was on life-support until 5 p.m. that afternoon.
The suspect, armed with two handguns including Officer Mehlberg’s .38 caliber service revolver, fled into a home on W. Lloyd Street. A woman in the home called police.
Police surrounded the home and the suspect surrendered a short time later. He was arrested without incident when he came out of the house with his hands up.
The 19-year-old suspect had an extensive record. In 1979, he was described by a judge as a danger to the community. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to two life terms plus 110 years.
Officer Mehlberg was 25-years-old and had served as a police officer for nearly four years and was previously a police aide. Officer Machajewski was 24-years-old and was married. His wife was three months pregnant at the time of his death. He had served for three and a half years.
Officer Thomas Kiefer and his partner were responding to a family trouble near N. 1st Street and E. Chambers Street on November 25, 1977. The two officers were on the porch and about to knock on the door when the suspect appeared in the partially opened doorway. The suspect fired once striking Officer Kiefer in the chest. He was taken to County General Hospital where he died of his wound.
Officer Kiefer had been with the Milwaukee Police Department for four years. He was 27 years old and married.
Standing on his traffic post at N. Water Street and E. Wisconsin Avenue on October 29, 1975, Officer Albert Kohn heard the description of a Chicago man wanted for armed robbery broadcast on his radio.
Officer Kohn spotted the man and arrested him. As Officer Kohn was calling for a patrol wagon to pick up the prisoner, the man broke free and fled. Officer Kohn gave chase. A few blocks later while running up the ramp of a parking garage, Officer Kohn collapsed. Backup officers responding captured the suspect and Kohn was taken to St. Mary’s hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Kohn was 44-years-old with 22 years of service on the Milwaukee Police Department. He was survived by a wife and daughter.
On August 17, 1975, Patrolman Dennis Obradovich was shot and killed when four suspects robbed Bryants Cocktail Lounge at 1579 S. 9th Street. He was off-duty and at the lounge with a fellow officer and two female companions when the robbers entered and announced a hold-up.
O'Bradovich announced himself as a police officer and at least one of the robbers began shooting. He was struck seven times, but managed to return fire and wound one of the assailants. Two of the suspects were arrested as they ran from the bar and two more, along with a 17 year old girl believed to be the getaway driver, were arrested later in the day. Patrolman Obradovich was conveyed to a hospital for treatment but succumbed to his wounds on August 18, 1975.
Patrolman Obradovich was 30-years-old and had been on the force for six years.
Patrolman Michael Draeger died on December 28, 1974 from injuries sustained in a automobile crash on November 18, 1974.
Patrolman Draeger was responding to a call for assistance from another officer when the police ambulance he was driving collided with a squad car at N. 8th Street and W. Center Street. The gas tank of the ambulance burst into flames when it was struck from the rear by the squad car. Patrolman Draeger was able to free himself from the vehicle, but his gasoline-soaked clothes caught fire.
Patrolman Draeger was rushed to the burn center at St. Mary’s Hospital with third degree burns over 75% of his body. His partner and two police officers in the squad car received minor injuries.
Patrolman Draeger was 26-years-old and had served with the Milwaukee Police Department for five years. He was married with two children.
Police Officer Thomas Matulis, 27, and Police Officer Robert Riley, 28, were gunned down July 10th, 1974, in a struggle with three men in the 2600 block of S. 13th Street.
The two men were off-duty that day and after attending a Milwaukee Brewers game at County Stadium that evening, they met Matulis’ brother and some friends at a south side tavern. En route to another tavern the group spotted three men tossing and breaking bottles in the street and causing a disturbance.
The two officers walked over, identified themselves as policemen, and during the discussion a quarrel resulted. Officer Riley went to his car to get his service revolver and returned to the confrontation. Two suspects then started running and the officers gave chase. Moments later shots rang out and the two officers were found dead on the sidewalk.
Officer Riley was unmarried and lived with his widowed mother. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1965.
Officer Matulis was a Vietnam Veteran and according to news reports from family “...he saw pretty heavy fighting” and “...he didn’t think he would make it back.” Officer Matulis graduated from Don Bosco High School in 1964. He was married with two daughters, ages three and three-months.
Off-duty Milwaukee Police Patrolman Ronald Reagan kissed his wife goodbye as she addressed Christmas cards at the kitchen table and headed out to the Bungalow Tap at N. 30th Street and W. Hadley Street on December 13, 1973. While at the bar, one by one, three men came in. One asked to use the telephone. Another sat on an open stool next to a female patron who was next to Reagan. That man pulled out a gun, put it to the woman’s head and said to Reagan, “She dies if you move.”
Patrolman Reagan drew his revolver, announced he was a policeman and fired at the man, missing him. He did not see the third gunman at the door who opened fired along with at least one other gunman. Six bullets hit Reagan including one in the head and one in the chest. No one else was injured. He was pronounced dead at County General Hospital.
The men ran off and police later arrested two men from Chicago and one from Milwaukee. All three received life sentences.
Patrolman Reagan was 27 years old and had been with the Milwaukee Police Department for five years. Patrolman Reagan was issued Badge Number 1632 at his appointment and then later on he was issued another Badge # 1725. He left behind his wife of six years, a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Police Officers Gerald Hempe and Charles T. Smith were shot and killed about 10:00 p.m. on January 31st, 1973.
The two officers were on patrol in their district and called the dispatcher and said they wanted another squad to meet them as soon as possible in the 2300 block of N. Palmer Street. That was the last transmission from the men.
As Officers Hempe and Smith were arresting the passenger, the driver got out of the car and began shooting at them.
Two detectives were four blocks away when they heard the transmission. When they arrived, the two officers were found lying in the street behind their van.
Officer Charles Smith was 24 years old and had been with the Milwaukee Police Department for less than a year.
Officer Gerald Hempe was 31 years old and had been on the force for six years.
On November 9, 1971, Officer Paul Du Planty was walking his beat in the area of State and Wells Streets alongside the Stadium Expressway, when he saw a vehicle that had spun out on a slippery spot of the snow covered expressway and stalled in the middle lane. Officer Du Planty radioed to the Sherriff’s Department about the situation and walked over to assist the stranded motorist and direct traffic.
A vehicle driving too fast could not stop for the slowed traffic and struck another vehicle. The vehicle slammed into Officer Du Planty knocking him over the guardrail and off the bridge. Officer Du Planty radioed that he had fallen from the bridge and said he was hurt and needed help. He never mentioned being struck by the car. He died about two hours later at County General Hospital.
Officer Du Planty was 26-years-old and had been on the force just over one year.