Acting Detective Albert W. Wegener
Served: 11 years
September 19, 1906 to November 12, 1917
Motorcycle Patrolman George LePoris
Served: 2¼ years
August 25, 1915 to November 12, 1917
During the later months of the Year 1917, several Cincinnati downtown businesses had been robbed and the description of the robber was similar in each robbery. Detective Wegener and his partner, Detective William Sweeney, renowned for their recovery of stolen property, went around to the various pawn shops describing the robbers and the property they took.
On November 12, 1917, shortly after noon, a man matching the robber’s description tried to pawn one of the described watches at Walton C. Levi’s shop at 515 Central Avenue (and New Fifth Street). Levi directed his clerk to call Police Headquarters. Detective Lieutenant Love took the call. Detective Wegener happened to be sitting in the office when the call came in and he responded.
Upon his arrival, the suspect and Detective Wegener recognized each other. The suspect tried to escape, but Detective Wegener grabbed hold of his wrist. The suspect broke free, drew a firearm, and shot Detective Wegener in the left chest. Detective Wegener was transported in an automobile to the General Hospital, but he died en route, at 12:55 p.m., due to a hemorrhaging lung. He was not able to reveal his killer’s identity.
Detective Wegener left a wife. His funeral was held at his residence, 903 Mound Street, on November 15 at 1:30 p.m. Services were held at the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 2 p.m. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate. Pallbearers included Lieutenant Henry Pottebaum, Sergeant William Knight, and Acting Detectives William Sweeney and Fred W. Potts, Jr.
A manhunt for the suspect ensued. Off duty Motorcycle Patrolman LePoris had been in City Hall on private business and was therefore in plain clothes when the word of the shooting came to Headquarters. He joined in the manhunt.
Citizens saw the suspect going into a building at 3rd and Elm Streets and yelled toward the police officers. Lieutenant Charles F. Wolsefer went into the building after him. Seeing this, Patrolman LePoris went up a fire escape in an effort to contain the murderer.
Other citizens, seeing a man in plain clothes and holding a revolver going up a fire escape yelled, “There he is!” Two railroad detectives began shooting at him from Pearl and Elm Streets. Lieutenant Wolsefer looked out a window, saw the plain-clothed man with a revolver on the fire escape and also shot at him. In the fusillade, Patrolman LePoris was shot twice; once in the hip which traveled to sever his spinal cord and once in the right chest through the lung. The mistake was quickly realized and he was transported to the General Hospital.
Meanwhile, the murderer had gone through the building and on Central Avenue hijacked a hack at gunpoint and was driven to safety. He was never captured or identified.
Though it seemed Patrolman LePoris would survive, his condition worsened about 6 p.m. and he died at General Hospital at 6:25 p.m. from a hemorrhaging right lung. The Coroner found that the two bullets that struck him were from the .32 caliber revolver used by Lieutenant Wolsefer.
Patrolman LePoris left a wife, both parents, and siblings, all of whom were in attendance as he died. The funeral was held at his residence, 6268 Savannah Avenue, on November 15 at 1:15 p.m. Services were held at the Spring Grove’s Norman Chapel at 2 p.m. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. Pallbearers included Sergeant Edward Huber and Patrolmen Christian Beck, William Van Agthoven, and Louis Graf.
Police personnel were ordered to wear the badge of mourning for four days from November 13 through November 16.
Patrolman LePoris was also an artist of some note and drew several Indian heads and busts and a bust of then Police Chief, William Copelan.
Two other Cincinnati officers were killed at the same location where Detective Wegener was shot. Substitute Patrolman James R. Gallagher was shot and killed there on March 26, 1876. On April 25, 1916, 1½ years prior to Detective Wegener’s killing, Patrolman Samuel J. Robins was shot and killed there and Detective Wegener shot and killed Robins’ murderer. Nowhere else in the eight counties of Greater Cincinnati has so many policemen died. Today, the Greater Cincinnati Fire Department Memorial Park sits on this site.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding these officers or incidents, please contact the Museum Director at Director@police-museum.org.
(c) This narrative was revised on December 26, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with many of the details provided by Jennifer Baker, a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.