Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gun Battle on Witherbee Avenue in 1904 Results in Wounded Pelham Manor Police Officer



Policing in the Town of Pelham has been a dangerous business for Pelham's Finest since at least the late 19th century.  Pelham Manor police officer John McGuire was shot and killed while trying to apprehend a burglary suspect on the Pelham Manor trolley in 1917.  The slaying has never been solved.  See Wed., Aug. 09, 2006:  The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley"


When murdered, Officer John McGuire was investigating a burglary that had occurred on Witherbee Avenue in the Village of Pelham Manor.  Only eight years earlier, another Pelham Manor police officer, A. D. Savage, was wounded in a gun battle on Witherbee Avenue after surprising armed burglars in the act of burglarizing the summer home of a New York City resident at the corner of Witherbee and Highbrook Avenues.  



 
Pelham Manor Police Department in 1910 Only Five Months
After Officer A.D. Savage, Standing Third from Right,
Was Shot.  Caption Reads:"R.H. Marks, Chief of Police (sitting)
Left to Right -- John J. Flanagan, George Booth, Joseph Colgan,
John McGuire, A.D. Savage, Phil. Gargan, James Butler."
Source:  Pelham Manor Police Dept., The Pelham Sun [Pelham, NY], 
May 21, 1910, Vol. I, No. 7, cols. 4-6.

Officer Savage went beyond the call of duty.  He was shot by one of the burglars during a fierce gun battle.  At first it was thought he was shot in the shoulder, shattering the bones.  It turned out, however, that he was shot beneath his left arm pit and the bullet lodged near a rib.  Despite his wound, Officer Savage grabbed and clung to one of the burglars, refusing to let go until another officer arrived.  Only then did the exhausted and wounded officer yell to his fellow officer "don't let him go.  He shot me!" then fainted.  Village officers swarmed the area and apprehended a second perpetrator.  Though the pair gave false names, it turned out that they were a rather nasty couple of thugs.  Within a few days, police apprehended a third member of the burglary ring. 

As might be expected, newspapers throughout the metropolitan region reported on the bravery of the Village of Pelham Manor police officers.  Thankfully, Officer Savage recovered from his wounds and even was photographed among the members of the Department, standing proudly, only a few months later (see below).  Amazingly, only seven months after he was shot, Officer Savage apprehended another burglar as he tried to jimmy open the kitchen window of another Pelham Manor home in the same area as the earlier incident (see below).  

Today's Historic Pelham Blog salutes Pelham Manor's Finest and transcribes various articles about the gun battle and the bravery of three Village Police Officers, A.D. Savage, James Butler, and John J. Flanagan. 

"CROOKS AND COPS IN A DUEL.
-----

Policeman Shot by Burglar Who Was Robbing Allan Robinson's Home.

MOUNT VERNON, Dec. 21. -- There was an exciting duel between two burglars and two policemen in front of the country house of Allan Robinson, a New York lawyer, on Witherbee avenue, Pelham Manor, to-night, in which Policeman A.B. [sic] Savage of Pelham Manor was shot through the right shoulder.  He is lying dangerously wounded in the New Rochelle Hospital.  

The burglars, who had packed three suit cases with silverware and other valuables, are locked up in the Pelham Manor police station.  Chief of Police Marks believes that they are the 'early Joe' burglars who have been operating in the early evening along the north shore of the Sound for some time.  The arrest of the men was brought about by the pluck of Policeman Savage, who after being shot clung to one of the prisoners until assistance arrived.

Policeman Savage was patrolling his beat when he discovered one of the front windows in the Robinson house -- which had been closed for the winter -- open, and he called Policeman Flannagan, who was near by, and the two officers started to crawl through the window, when they were fired on from inside.  The shots went wild and the burglars then leaped out of a rear window and started to run down the street, followed by the officers, who fired on them.  There was a fusillade of shots.

Although Savage received a bullet in his shoulder he managed to seize one of the intruders and clung to him.  The shots attracted Policeman Butler, who came up the street on a run, and Savage shouted 'Hold this fellow; don't let him go!  He shot me!'  Then he fell in a faint.  Butler was forced to knock the man down with his nightstick in order to get the handcuffs on him.

Policeman Flannagan held up the other burglar at the point of his revolver and both were taken to police headquarters.  They gave their names as Albert Wilson of 71 East 119th street, Manhattan, and William De Snow of Philadelphia.

Mr. Robinson is living at his town house and his Pelham Manor summer home has been closed for several weeks.  When the police visited the house after the shooting they found the suit cases filled with booty in the dining room and ready to be carried away.

After Policeman Savage was taken to the New Rochelle Hospital the bullet was probed for and then it was found that the shoulder was so badly shattered that it was necessary to perform an operation."

Source:  CROOKS AND COPS IN A DUEL, The Sun [NY, NY], Dec. 22, 1909, p. 6, cols. 6-7.  

"BURGLARS SHOOT IN PELHAM MANOR; WOUND POLICEMAN
-----
He is Officer Savage Who resides on Fourth Avenue This City.
-----
MARAUDERS CAUGHT
-----
Victim in New Rochelle Hospital and Recovery is Expected.
-----
DUEL IN THE DARK.
-----

In pistol duel last evening at 6:30 o'clock, at the residence of Allen Robinson, president of the Allied Real Estate Interests, at the corner of Witherbee and Highbrook avenues, Pelham Manor, between Police Officers A. D. Savage and [John J.] Flanagan and two burglars who were surprised after they had ransacked the place.  Officer Savage was shot in the right shoulder and is now in the New Rochelle hospital, where he will recover.  Savage resides in Mount Vernon, on South Fourth avenue.

Officer Savage showed great courage, when in spite of his wound, he caught one of the burglars after the latter had attempted to escape with his pal, who was also captured by Officer Flanagan.

Held the Burglars.

Savage held his man until Officer Butler arrived.  Butler felled the burglar with a blow of his nightstick after Savage had told him that he had been shot.  After being attended by Dr. Washburn the wounded officer was taken to the New Rochelle hospital, where he made a statement to Coroner Boedecker.  It was stated at the hospital this morning that Officer Savage was doing well and that there was every hope for his recovery.  The bullet in the wounded officer's shoulder has not been probed for as yet.

Booty is Found.

At the Robinson house were found two dress suit cases packed with jewelry and articles valued at about $1,000.  In one dress suit case was a pearl necklace valued at $400.  Near the open window was found a satchel filled with burglar's tools, which the burglars left behind them.  

Found Window Open.

It was at 6:20 o'clock that Officer Flanagan noticed one of the windows of the Robinson house on the first floor open.  He went to the nearest telephone box and reported.  He made another investigation and ascertained that the window had been pried open with a jimmy.

Fired on the Police.

Chief [R. H.] Marks sent Officer Savage, who was doing desk duty, to the Robinson house, where Flanagan was waiting, as there was someone inside.  He warned him to be careful.  

The burglars must have heard the officers talking outside for no sooner had Savage and Flanagan started to climb through the window than the burglars hurried down the stairs and in the darkness, opened fire upon them.

While partly leaning through the window the two officers returned the fire.

The burglars had the advantage over the officers.  Officer Savage was shot in the shoulder, but continued to fire into the darkness, and in an ante-mortem statement told Coroner Boedecker that he did not know how many times he shot at the men.

Taken to Hospital.

The neighborhood was aroused by the shooting.  Chief Marks hurried to the scene and then had the wounded officer taken in a Larchmont car as far as the Red Church corner.  The car was on its way to Mount Vernon at the time and was backed to the church.  The officer was then assisted to the office of Dr. Washburn and later taken to the New Rochelle hospital in an automobile.

Makes Quick Run.

It was 7:50 o'clock when Coroner Boedecker, of Mount Vernon, was notified of the shooting by telephone, and that Savage was at that time in the New Rochelle hospital.  The coroner broke all records for quick work in his department, for twenty minutes after he received word of the shooting, he was at the bedside of the wounded officer.  The run was made in an automobile.

Burglars in Custody.

The two burglars were brought to police headquarters and gave their names as John De Snow, of Philadelphia, and William Wilson, of No. 17 East 19th street, New York.  In the pockets of Wilson, who was the one 
-----
(Continued on Page Three.)

BURGLARS SHOOT
-----
(Continued From Page One.)

Savage caught and whom he declared shot him, were found 28 cartridges.  Wilson when he was brought to the station was in a bad condition and was bleeding from the head.  He did not appear to be more than seventeen or eighteen years of age.

Story of a Third Man.

About 11:30 o'clock Roundman Deveaux of New Rochelle police force, came to headquarters in company with a boy named Clifford Rivers of No. 18 Walnut street, New Rochelle.  The boy says that last night about 8 o'clock, while he was talking with another boy on the station platform in New Rochelle, a young man wearing a dark soft hat came, olive green suit, came running into the platform and said to him:  'We had a house pretty well cleaned out in Pelham Manor when the police caught us and I beat it.  The boy declares that the man took the 8:20 train on the Harlem river division for New York.  Chief Marks takes no stock in the boy's story.  The burglars declare there was a third man who did the shooting and that they knew nothing about it at all.  Chief Marks said that there were only two burglars in the house.  When the men were searched no weapon was found on them and none could be found in the locality."

Source:  BURGLARS SHOOT IN PELHAM MANOR; WOUND POLICEMAN, The Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 22, 1909, p. 1, col. 3 & p. 3, col. 1.  

"A THIRD MAN IN ROBBERY.
----

Pelham Manor, Dec. 23. -- That William De Snow and Albert Wilson, the two burglars who were captured at the Robinson house Tuesday evening by Officers Savage and Flanagan after a duel as a result of which Officer Savage was wounded, are criminals and have records is established.  The two men gave fictitious names and it is learned they are brothers.  The younger who gave the name of Wilson told Chief Marks that his older brother, known as De Snow, was the one who shot Savage.  A third man, who is believed to know something about the burglary was arrested at 1985 Lexington avenue last night by Detectives Clark and Mendelssohn.  He gave the name of Frank Costello, 98 East 114th street."

Source:  A THIRD MAN IN ROBBERY, New Rochelle Pioneer, Dec. 25, 1909, p. 5, col. 3.  

"PELHAM BURGLARS CONFESS
-----
Three Men Implicated in Crime Are Held for the Grand Jury.

Pelham Manor, Dec. 24 -- With the arrest of Joseph White, alias John Costello, alias John Codello, at his room at 1,895 Lexington avenue, New York, at midnight on Wednesday, by Chief Marks, Officer Butler, of Pelham Manor and Detectives Clark and Mendelssohn, of New York, Chief Marks has now in custody all of the burglars who broke into the residence of Allen Robinson Tuesday night.  All three of the men in confessions made to the chief, admit that they entered the house but each denies that he had anything to do with the shooting of Officer Savage, who is now in the New Rochelle hospital.

Both Joseph White and Albert Wilson, whose right name is Albert Barnett, alias Bender, declare that De Snow shot Savage, while De Snow says that he did not do the shooting, and declares that White shot the officer from the roof of the house.  

The capture of White in New York was effected in a sensational manner.  Chief Marks located the man by means of an address on a tag which was attached to a ring with two keys taken from one of the prisoners Tuesday night.  He went to 1,895 Lexington avenue on Wednesday, and ascertained that De Snow was living on the top floor with another man but that he had not been seen for several days.  

Late Wednesday night, Chief Marks and Officer Butler went to New York and after meeting Detectives Clark and Mendelssohn, went to Lexington avenue.  chief Marks had one of the keys with him and with it opened the front door.  He stationed Officer Butler in the back yard.  

The chief and the two New York detectives proceeded to De Snow's room.  Chief Marks rapped on the door and after he had answered to the name of 'Jack' when a voice inside of the room asked who was there, the door was opened.  The three officers entered the room and before De Snow's friend had an opportunity to recover from his surprise he was made a prisoner.

The room was searched by the detectives while Chief Marks held the prisoner.  On the bureau was found a clipping from a New York paper with the account of the burglary in Pelham Manor at the Robinson house.

White was taken to police headquarters in New York, where his picture was found in Rogues' Gallery.  Its number is 9,936.  He was identified by the detectives.  Early Thursday morning he was brought to Pelham Manor and locked up.  Last night the three burglars were arraigned before Judge Kilvert on a charge of burglary and assault on an officer with intent to kill.  Joseph White pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary and was held to await the action of the grand Jury.  De Snow, whose right name is William Barnett, and his brother, Albert Barnett, pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary, but would not plead to the assault charge.  Each man waived examination.  The were also held to await the action of the grand jury, and were taken to White Plains this morning.
-----Mount Vernon Argus."

Source:  PELHAM BURGLARS CONFESS, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 1, 1910, p. 3, col. 4.  

"PERSONAL ITEMS.
----- 

*     *     *    

--Officer A. D. Savage, of Pelham Manor, a resident of South Fourth avenue, this city, who was shot by burglars surprised by him and Officer Flanagan while they were in the act of robbing the residence of Allen Robinson in Pelham Manor, December 21, was operated on Monday in the New York Graduate Hospital in New York by Dr. Samuel Lloyd.  It was supposed at the time of the fight with the burglars that Savage was shot in the arm but the bullet was found near a rib under the left arm pit."  

Source:  PERSONAL ITEMS, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 20, 1910, p. 2, col. 2. 

"ROETTNER GETS A YEAR.
-----

Conrad Roettner, of New Rochelle, who was implicated in robberies with the burglars De Snow and Wilson, one of whom shot Officer Savage, of the Mount Vernon [sic] police force, after a robbery at Pelham Manor, was sentenced this week to a year in Kings County penitentiary, having pleaded guilty to petit larceny."  

Source:  ROETTNER GETS A YEAR, New Rochelle Pioneer, Feb. 19, 1910, p. 5, col. 7.

"CHAUFFEUR AND BURGLAR
-----
Pelham Manor Police Nab Arthur Tilford Trying to Enter House.

While attempting to force an entrance into the rear window of the residence of Miss Edith Haywood, on Monterey avenue, Pelham Manor, about 8 o'clock Friday night.  Officer Savage caught a burglar, who, when he was brought to police headquarters in Pelham Manor, gave his name as Arthur Tilford, of New Rochelle.  He is twenty-one years of age, and is a chauffeur during the day time.  He has been convicted of burglary and twice of larceny.  He is also responsible for the burglary committed in the Haywood barn two weeks ago.  At first he denied it, but when Raymond Ricardo, chauffeur for the Haywoods, identified a blue coat worn by Tilford, as his own property, the latter broke down and confessed and informed the police where he had disposed of the property.

Officer Savage was shot last December, by a burglar, not far from the spot where he ran across Tilford last night.  He was walking along Monterey avenue, when he heard a noise which sounded to him like that of some person working at a window.  He walked across the grass and discovered Tilford trying to pry open the window opening into the kitchen by means of a chisel.  Tilford did not know the officer was near him until the latter placed his hand on his shoulder and pulled him to the ground.

Officer Savage brought his prisoner to headquarters and when Chief Marks saw him he recognized a blue serge coat which answered the one Ricardo, the chauffeur for the Haywoods, in Pelham Manor, had reported to him as stolen.

'Where did you get that coat?' the chief asked.

'Oh, that is my coat.  I have had it for two years,' was the answer.

Chief Marks took Tilford to New York to-day, and will have his picture taken there.  He was arraigned before Judge Kilvert on a charge of burglary and was remanded until Tuesday."

Source:  CHAUFFEUR AND BURGLAR, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jul. 30, 1910, p. 3, col. 5.  

For other similar reports about the shooting of Officer Savage, see, e.g., OFFICER SHOT BY A BURGLAR, The Yonkers Statesman, Dec. 22, 1909, Vol. XXVII, No. 8005, p. 1, col. 6; PELHAM BURGLARS MAKE CONFESSION, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 24, 1909, p. 6, col. 4; SHOT BY BURGLAR, NY Tribune, Dec. 22, 1909, p. 1, col. 4. 

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