Patrolmen Roth and Crout responded on May 5, 1928 at about 2 p.m. to a call for service at a gravel pit near the American Rolling Mill Company (now AK Steel) on the outskirts of the city. They found Charles McCuller and his son, George McCuller (25), bottling bootleg whisky. A third man was present, though it is not known whether the officers knew it or what role, if any, he had in what happened next.
As the officers attempted to take the McCullers into custody, George McCuller grabbed Patrolman Crout’s sidearm and shot both officers. The three bootleggers ran off with both officers’ sidearms.
We do not know how they were discovered wounded, but the officers were transported to Middletown Hospital.
The three bootleggers were captured a short time later in Amanda. They were taken to the Middletown Jail, but George McCuller was soon removed to Hamilton when a lynch mob surrounded the Middletown jail.
Patrolman Roth died at 9:30 that night of a bullet wound to the brain. He was survived by his wife, Serilda Roth, two children, two siblings, Maude Roth and Robert Roth, and both parents, Ivan and Grace Roth. On May 8, 1928, he was buried at Woodside Cemetery in Middletown.
Patrolman Crout passed away at 1:45 a.m. the next morning, on May 6, 1928, of a bullet wound to the lung. He was survived by his wife, Myrtle Crout, and parents Clem and Martha Crout. On May 8, 1928, he was buried in Elk Creek Cemetery in Middletown.
On May 6, about 1 p.m., as detectives were driving George McCuller back to Middletown, McCuller attempted to escape by throwing himself from the vehicle. He took off running, ignored warnings to halt, and Detective Jess Dennis shot at him, striking him three times. McCuller was transported to Middletown Hospital for treatment.
The next day, May 7, about 1:30 p.m., while at the hospital and under a police guard, McCuller tried to take Patrolman William Rutledge’s sidearm. During the scuffle, Patrolman Rutledge shot McCuller again. This time, he died – about 8 o’clock that night.
We do not yet know the fates of the other bootleggers. If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding these officers or incidents, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised April 17, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.