On Thursday, May 10, 2012, engravers from Johns Carabelli Co. and a representative from the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial Society engraved the names of four (4) local Law Enforcement Officers who died in the line of duty. The names being added to the Memorial Wall are officers whose sacrifices may have been lost to history if not for the effort of others who brought their stories forward.
Officers added to Memorial Wall:
Night Watchman John H. Gates
Medina Village Marshal’s Office,
Medina County, Ohio
End of Watch: April 18, 1916
By: Det. Donald M. Searle, Medina PD (Retired)
On April 18, 1916, Medina Village Watchman, John Gates, 60 years old, went to work like he did so many other nights, fulfilling his obligation to make sure the businesses in village were secure. At some point during his rounds and during the “deserted hours of the morning” Gates apparently sat down to rest on a ledge in front of E.P. Hartman’s Grocery Store facing the historic square in Medina. It was at this point that Gates was approached by Henry Blakeslee, the 48 year old village marshal, a position in which Gates had previously served. Blakeslee, who was in possession of a 16 ga. double barreled shotgun, apparently had ongoing issues with Gates. Seconds after the initial meeting, two shots rang out in quick succession. A couple staying in a local hotel looked out in time to see the assailant running away from the spot where Gates was later found lying dead. A search to find Blakeslee regarding the incident was fruitless. However, Blakeslee’s discarded uniform coat was found in the basement of a nearby clothing store. It contained two live shotgun shells that were identical to two empty casings found at the scene.
After an exhaustive 8 hour search, Blakeslee was found hiding in a hay maw in his neighbor’s barn. Blakeslee had a self inflicted gunshot wound. Although seriously injured, he was treated and eventually recovered from those wounds. His shotgun was found under the neighbor’s couch. Henry Blakeslee’s case was subsequently presented to a grand jury who indicted him on first degree murder charges. He was tried and found guilty of manslaughter and received a sentence of one to twenty years. Night Watchman John Gates served with the agency for eight years. He was survived by his wife Katie and four children.
Village Marshal Spooner C. Crapo
Rochester Village, Lorain County, Ohio
End of Watch: November 11, 1905
By: Det. Al Leiby, Elyria PD (Retired)
Born in Pittsfield Township, Ohio on October 12, 1837, Crapo was orphaned as a small boy. He later called Rochester Ohio, home. Rochester is a small village in the south west corner of Lorain County, Ohio. It is here that he spent the majority of his 68 year life, with the exception of 20 years when he resided in Charlotte, Michigan. Crapo was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving 4 years and 19 days beginning on August 3, 1861. He was known to be a comrade of General George Custer during the Civil War. He was Sexton of the Baptist church, the president of the local school board, a member of the Hamlin Post and Company H 2nd Ohio Cavalry. Following the U.S. Civil War, train hopping became a common means of transportation as the railroads began pushing westward, especially among migrant workers. Additional hazards included being jostled off the train at high speeds, or being attacked by other train hoppers, who were ex-cons, and violence was not uncommon among the transient population. On the evening of Saturday, November 11, 1905, at 8:00 PM, Crapo age 68 was performing his duties in the rail yard, chasing some kids who were trying to jump a boxcar. He was often found giving his full attention to this area of enforcement. During the foot chase, he stepped out on the next track. Partially deaf, he was struck by a train, approaching from the opposite direction. He died instantly. Marshal Spooner C. Crapo was survived by his wife Elizabeth, two sons, one daughter, five granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter. He was buried in Station Cemetery in Rochester, Ohio.
Detective Thomas Cook
New York Central Railroad
End of Watch: July 12, 1920
By: Frank DeAngelo
Whiskey Island is a peninsula at the north mouth of the Cuyahoga River at Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. Configured in 1827 when the river’s mouth was moved to its present location, it is one mile long and one third mile at it’s widest. It was the first piece of solid land amid the swamps lining the river one-quarter mile down the Cuyahoga when Moses Cleveland visited the area in 1796, and is named after a distillery that was built on the site in the 1830’s. In the early days, there were streets and residents, including thirteen saloons and Cleveland’s second hospital. After the residents left, manufacturing plants and docks were constructed and Whiskey Island was left largely to the railroads and ore docks. The New York Central Railroad ran its northern division through Whiskey Island, stopping to ferry passengers across the Cuyahoga River. Since 1865, under the Ohio Revised Code, the railroads employed sworn peace officers with full police authority. Their duties included investigating crimes such as trespassing, robbery, theft of cargo and personal property. Cook was born on December 10, 1883 in Cleveland, Ohio. On July 12th, 1920 in the early morning on Whiskey Island, Cook was working in the area belonging to New York Central Rail Road. He was patrolling near the ore docks and railroad yards when he was shot and killed by one of two men he was attempting to search and question, believing that they were boxcar robbers. Immediately, scores of police and railroad detectives surrounded Whiskey Island in the area around the ore docks and railroad yards hoping to capture the murderer of Cook. They were subsequently apprehended. Cook was 36 years old, and single at the time of his death. Services were held on Wednesday, July 14, 1920. Detective Thomas Cook was laid to rest at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
Detective Sergeant David H. Barnes
New York Central Railroad
End of Watch: July 28, 1920
By: Det. Al Leiby, Elyria PD (Retired)
In the early 1900’s the Elyria Police Department maintained a “Bum Cell”. As many as thirty to sixty transients a day would be rounded up from the railroad yards, and incarcerated for the night. In the morning they would be sent on their way with orders to leave town. Police found this process to be very effective in keeping the burglaries, robberies, assaults, and thefts in check. NYCRR Detective Sergeant David H. Barnes, at 6’04”, worked fearlessly and was single-handedly responsible for as many as half the number of arrests on any given day.
On the evening of July 27, 1920, Sgt. Barnes made the arrests of three transients and delivered them to the police station. He returned to the area of the East Bridge Street railroad undercut to locate two more suspects. As Barnes walked the tracks, a suspect lay in wait, concealed behind boxcars. Three shots rang out, the first striking Barnes in the groin and knocking him down. The second missing its mark. The third shot was fired point blank, striking Sgt. Barnes in the head and causing his death. Initially police believed that two local men were involved in the shooting. Both suspects were later cleared when they were able to provide solid alibis. The prime suspect, a notorious bank robber who had been in numerous shootouts with police, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of East Cleveland Detective Patrick Gaffney (EOW 12-19-1918). He died in prison. He was never prosecuted for the murder of Sgt. Barnes, or the shooting and wounding of two other police officers in separate incidents. Detective Sergeant David H. Barnes was 48 years old at the time of his death. His wife and four children survived him.