Served: 11¼ years
January 13, 1905 to April 25, 1916
On April 25, 1916, shortly before noon, 20-year-old William Groendike, of 7130 Rosewood Avenue, was in Louis Katz’ pawnshop at 518 Central Avenue (at Longworth Avenue). Groendike had already purchased from Katz and taken possession of an unloaded .45 caliber revolver and was currently negotiating for a violin. Cincinnati Detectives Albert Wegener and William Sweeney happened to walk in, saw Katz was busy, and told him that they would be back in five minutes.
As it happened, April 25th was also a voting day for the primary. On Longworth, just east of Central, a temporary voting booth was set up and 43-year-old Patrolman Robins was detailed to protect it.
Groendike, knowing the detectives were coming back, when Katz turned away from him, reached out and struck Katz on the side of the head with the revolver in an effort to knock him out and rob him. Katz was stunned and came out from behind the counter and grappled with Groendike. Groendike pulled from his pocket a loaded .25 caliber pistol. The pistol exploded and the bullet went into Katz’s wrist. Groendike ran from the store with Katz in pursuit yelling, “Stop, thief!”
Groendike, running past the voting booth, ran into Patrolman Robins. There was a short struggle and Robins quickly took control. On the way back to the pawnshop, Groendike reached into his trouser pocket, grabbed his pistol, placed it against Patrolman Robins’s side, and pulled the trigger. Patrolman Robins reeled and fell into the arms of Jack Rubenstein who had tried to assist in the pursuit of Groendike. Groendike, unencumbered, took flight once more.
Detectives Wegener and Sweeney were also running to the scene and had just rounded the corner when Groendike shot Patrolman Robins. Groendike, running east on Longworth, saw them and fired a shot at them. Detective Wegener, who already had is revolver at the ready, returned fire. Two of his three shots took effect – one passing through Groendike’s torso and the other lodging in his spine paralyzing him below the waist.
Officers commandeered a passing Sullivan Ambulance which took Patrolman Robins to General Hospital. A Patrol Wagon transported Katz and Groendike to General Hospital. Patrolman Robins lost consciousness on the way and died soon after arrival.
Patrolman Robins left a wife, Mary E. Robins, and a son, Johnny Robins (5). Funeral services were held at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Company A of the Police Department escorted him to his burial on April 28, 1916, in St. Joseph (New) Cemetery. Pallbearers included Detectives Sweeney and Hanrahan.
Katz survived his wound and was later released. Groendike died on April 27, 1916.
Nineteen months later, November 12, 1917, Detective Wegener would also die in the line of duty at another pawnshop in the 500 block of Central Avenue.
If you know of any information, archives, artifacts, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was researched and revised on April 17, 2013 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 Museum.