Served: 2 years
September 16, 1928 to September 16, 1930
While on routine patrol at about 9:30 p.m. on September 16, 1930, during his second anniversary as a law enforcement officer, Patrolman Commins found a suspicious Oldsmobile touring car and driver parked at Elm and Allen Avenues. As he approached the car, the driver blew his horn. Another man came running across the lawn of a nearby home and the driver suddenly got out of the car. One of the men pulled a gun and shot Patrolman Commins who slumped to the ground. Henry Castleberry, a butler employed at 121 Elm Street, came running out of the house and shot at the car as it roared away. Patrolman Commins also emptied his revolver at the car.
Mayor Frank S. Bonham was blocks away when he heard the shots and was the first Wyoming official on the scene. Patrolman Commins gasped out the story of what had happened, thinking that he had interrupted two burglars. A private ambulance transported him to the General Hospital in Cincinnati.
During the next morning, Patrolman Commins died of a gunshot wound to the chest just below the heart and another to the groin.
Patrolman Commins was survived by his wife of twenty years, Louise Commins, and three children. He was buried on September 19, 1930 in Vine Street Hill Cemetery.
The Oldsmobile was found “full of holes” the following day in Hamilton, Ohio. The case was extensively investigated by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. It was determined that the initial crime involved bootlegging. Thousands of dollars were raised for a reward, but no one was ever identified as a suspect.
The citizens of Wyoming raised enough money to pay off the house for Louise Commins and her children. One son, Lester (16), followed his father’s footsteps and became a Wyoming patrolman and later a sergeant. Louise died 32 years later during December 1962 and was buried next to Walter.
Coincidentally, two law enforcement officials were killed in Wyoming; both lived on Crescent Avenue and no suspect was identified in either killing.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised on August 4, 2012 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, based largely on his research provided by the Wyoming Historical Society. All rights are reserved to them and to the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.