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  Patrick H. Lyons, Unknown

Patrick H. Lyons

Saturday, November 30, 1907

Lyons, Patrick H.

Rank: Unknown

Serial Number: Unknown

Division: Unknown

Location: 1404 Central Ave

Date killed: Saturday, November 30, 1907

Cause of Death: Shot by a Robbery Suspect

Bio: Policeman Lyons was shot and killed by a
robbery suspect.

Late November 1907 had been unseasonably warm even by Los
Angeles standards with temperatures reaching the middle eighties.
Angelenos had celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 28,
with President Theodore Roosevelt issuing a proclamation stating
people should have Thanksgiving as a day free from work. Saturday
night the temperature was again mild dropping only to sixty
degrees, with a slight breeze blowing across the urban

Los Angeles police officers were still healing from the loss of
, the first LAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty
back on February 28, 1907. But enforcement of the law continued as
did the street robberies perpetrated by highwaymen who plagued the
downtown area and loitered within the saloons and pool halls
scattered throughout First Street and other thoroughfares including
Spring and Main Streets.

On Saturday evening, November 30, 1907, Patrolman Patrick H. Lyons
was working his late evening shift, walking a foot beat along the
Central Avenue corridor just south of today's Pico Boulevard. Lyons
was assigned to University Division, then located at 825 West
Jefferson Boulevard. Captain Avery J. Bradish was in command of the
division. Earlier in the year, Bradish ordered his patrolmen to
stop anyone out during the late hours with no apparent legitimate
business, in hopes of stemming the tide of robberies.

On Saturday night two other men went to work. A pair of street
criminals named Daniel Meskil (aka Harry Mitchell) and Rolla Robe
went on a crime spree intent on robbing any businesses they saw as
vulnerable. The two purportedly met in a poolroom at Main and First
Street called the Arizona. Meskil a career criminal from Nebraska,
arrived a month before from Portland, Oregon, boasting he had
committed numerous robberies there. Robe was impressed with
Meskil's exploits and agreed to join him on his violent path.

They left Robe's home around 8:30 pm, selecting George Garleman's
grocery store as their first target. The grocery store was located
at 811 South Central Avenue. Robe and Meskil arrived at around 9:00
pm, entered Garleman's store and asked to change a $2 scrip note.
Once the register opened, they covered their faces with
handkerchiefs and drew revolvers. During the robbery, Garleman's
daughter screamed that police were outside.

As Garleman's daughter screamed, the alarmed robbers fled outside
and jumped onto a horse drawn delivery wagon and fled southbound on
Central. At Central and 12th Street, they collided with a parked
streetcar. As the wagon overturned, the horse galloped down the
street and the suspects ran eastbound into an alley. Later, it was
established that Robe had worked for Garleman, driving the company
grocery wagon for $10 a week. Robe inexplicably abandoned his job
without notice after one day of work.

Ten minutes later the pair continued their crime spree entering the
Magnolia Winery at 1404 South Central Avenue. As the proprietor
Arthur Grosser counted the day's receipts, the two men entered and
pulled masks over their faces. They held Grosser at gunpoint taking
twenty dollars in silver and scrip. As Robe and Meskil held Grosser
at bay, they back peddled through the front door with guns still
pointing menacingly at Grosser.

Lyons, who was racing to the first robbery, observed the crime in
progress and rushed towards the two robbers, service revolver in
one hand and baton in the other. A fireman named H.C. Stammer
watched from across the street as events played out. Lyons
confronted Meskil and Robes just as they exited the winery. He
ordered the two robbers forward against Grosser's storefront. Lyons
searched the taller of the two suspects with one hand while
clutching his revolver in the other. The stockier suspect, later
identified as Meskil, was positioned nearly at Lyon's side. He
suddenly drew his revolver and ordered Lyons to put his hands up.
Meskil had one of the grocers search Lyons for weapons.

As Stammer went to aid Lyons, Meskil fired at the brave patrolman.
The bullet struck Lyons along his right eye. Lyons exhaled with a
slight groan then collapsed. Stammer telephoned for assistance and
described the shooter. Grosser exited the winery and observed the
armed Meskil, later advising authorities of Meskil's missing left
index finger. Patrolman Lyons was carried to Fire Station No. 3 at
1406 South Central Avenue. He was transported to Receiving Hospital
on First and Spring Street, where he died while in surgery.

A bicyclist chased the murderous pair northbound to 12th Street
before they turned on him with their guns. As the call went out of
an officer down, patrolmen responded from the surrounding areas.
Officers were reached at their residences and responded to the
manhunt for the two killers. An order was issued to arrest every
man out on the street. A score of men were dragged to Central
Station for interrogation. At 12th and Tennessee Street, Robe and
Meskil robbed another grocery store.

Following the murder of Patrolman Lyons, the two felons agreed they
should split up to avoid suspicion. They made plans to rendezvous
at Hemlock and 8th Streets. While Robe was in route to the planned
meeting, he was captured in the net cast over the entire Central
corridor. Robe immediately gave up a description of his cohort.
Robe was 22 years old but looked much younger. He had previously
been arrested on Catalina Island in the summer of 1906. Two nights
before, Lyons stopped Robe and searched him for weapons before
releasing him. Robes claimed he committed the robberies because he
needed money to buy food for his wife and child. Prior to the
murders he was seen hanging out at poolrooms along south Main
Street. Robe proclaimed, "The other fellow did the shooting. I
didn't have a gun."

During the robberies, Robe was armed with a .38 caliber revolver
while Meskil had a

.45 caliber revolver. After the two robbers were captured, each
blamed the other for the murder. Witness Stammer identified Meskil
as the killer of Patrolman Lyons.

Following an inquest, a bullet was recovered from Lyons' skull. It
was determined the fatal bullet that killed Lyons was from a .45
caliber revolver. The unusual bullet was an old military cartridge
coated with a specific type of oil that produced a green hue on the
bullets. Also, the fragments of the spent round contained traces of
black powder, while new bullets utilized smokeless powder.
Apparently, this production system was archaic by the time of
Lyons' death and it was this feature that proved vital in
identifying the killer of Lyons. Meskil had purchased the .45
caliber nickel plated Colt revolver at Hoege's Sporting Goods along
with a box of the old cartridges.

George Lauman was arrested on December 1, 1907, by Captain A. J.
Bradish and accused of being one of the two murderers of Patrolman
Lyons. Initially, Stammers identified him as the shooter of Lyons.
Lauman was missing part of his left index finger and thumb. But
over the next few days, Lauman's family vouched for his whereabouts
and he was eventually cleared by police.

Plain clothes officers reconnoitered every poolroom in the downtown
area. The dragnet continued through the next several days. Meskil
inexplicably loitered at poolrooms along Central Avenue watching
others play checkers. On December 3, 1907, Patrolman Anthony
Connelly entered a poolroom 1232 East 7th Street, just east of
Central Avenue. He asked the proprietor about the many customers in
the establishment including one man wearing a brown coat with his
left hand tucked into his trousers. Connelly approached the man and
ordered him to show his hand for inspection. The man, later
identified as Meskil angrily retorted, "What the hell business is
it of yours?" Connelly, a member of the department's boxing and
wrestling team then grabbed Meskil's arm and pulled it. With this,
the fight was on. Meskil quickly pulled a .45 caliber revolver and
Connelly, despite his experience as a pugilist, was in a fight for
his life.

As Meskil struggled to point the handgun at Connelly's torso,
Connelly desperately grabbed the barrel then jammed his left thumb
between the revolver's hammer and firing pin. Meskil futilely
squeezed the trigger a half dozen times intent on killing Connelly,
but the hammer continuously pinched Connelly's thumb. Though the
hammer bit off flesh and drew blood, it could not strike the firing
pin. Connelly punched Meskil repeatedly, pummeling him about the
face in a desperate attempt to overcome the desperate killer.
Meskil grabbed Connelly's throat and squeezed as Connelly asked
citizens for help. A former police officer now employed as a city
sanitation worker came to Connelly's aid and was promptly struck in
face by Meskil.

A former amateur baseball player witnessed the melee and picked up
a billiard ball. The good Samaritan, a former pitcher fired a
strike with the billiard ball from over twenty feet. The ball
smashed into Meskil's right cheekbone disorienting him and allowing
Connelly to handcuff him without further incident. Connelly
suffered a badly cut left thumb during the violent fight with

Meskil was transported several blocks to Central Station on First
Street and Broadway. There, Captains A. J. Bradish, Walter Auble
and Flammer grilled Meskil for three hours. Eventually Meskil broke
down and confessed to the murder. Later, a stenographer was called
in to take Meskil's confession and a photographer captured an image
of the suspected cop killer.

Meskil gave an address of 1238 ½ East 7th Street to investigators.
They followed up to his apartment where officers recovered a black
cap with an attached white mask. Additionally, officers recovered
the .38 revolver carried by Robe. Detectives learned that on
November 7, 1907, Meskil's finger was amputated at Receiving
Hospital after he accidently shot himself in the hand while living
at 933 South Broadway. Meskil was in Los Angeles only twenty
minutes when he shot off his left index finger while mishandling a
revolver. Meskil desperately tried to flee the city but was unable
to penetrate the dragnet set for him.

As court proceedings unfolded, Meskil mumbled in court that he had
been sloppy by not hiding out. There was talk of lynching him so
additional guards were posted in court during his appearances. He
was eventually transferred to the County Jail. Meskil was
previously jailed for assaulting his mother, sister and brother. He
once stabbed his sister in the back with a fork. He claimed to have
once murdered a drunken man by pushing him into a raging river as a
teenager. Meskil was later tried and convicted of Patrolman Lyons'
murder. Rolla Robe received life in prison for his role in the
murder of Patrolman Lyons.

On January 12, 1908, Meskil was sentenced to hang and sent to San
Quentin prison to await his execution. However, while in prison,
Meskil leaped off the third level of the prison onto the concrete
below. The hapless Meskil managed only to severe his spine and was
left paralyzed. He developed tuberculosis of the spine languished
for several months before dying a slow painful death.

Patrick H. Lyons became the second Los Angeles police to be killed
in the line of duty. He was 30 years old at the time of his death.
Lyons was originally from northern New York. He was single and
lived at 720 East 5th Street, having been appointed to the
Department on August 20, 1907. Prior to his appointment, Lyons
served as a special patrolman with the department for approximately
one year.

Bishop Thomas Conaty conducted the service for Patrolman Lyons on
Thursday, December 5, 1907. The pallbearers were Captains
Broadhead, Bradish and Auble, along with Lieutenants Dixon, Murray
and Williams. Two days later, on Saturday, December 7, 1907, one
hundred Los Angeles police officers escorted Patrolman Lyons' body
to the train station. Patrolman Connelly caught an outbound train
headed for Chicago, Illinois, as he accompanied the body of Patrick
H. Lyons, to his home state of New York. In Chicago, Patrolman
Lyons' mother, Anna Munson, met Connelly and received the body of
her son. Connelly continued with Mrs. Munson to Brashear Falls, New
York, where Lyons was buried.

Lieutenant J. A. Macias, #27710, LAPD

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