Police Officer John R. Phelan

Police Officer John R. Phelan

Baltimore City Police Department, Maryland

End of Watch Saturday, September 29, 1956

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John R. Phelan

Police Officer John Phelan was shot and killed by a wounded suspect after the juvenile gained possession of his service revolver while he was watching him in the ambulance.

He and another officer had just been involved in a shooting with the juvenile who had attempted to rob a liquor store with two accomplices. The juvenile was wounded in the leg during the shootout and was being transported to a hospital when he began to struggle with the officers in the ambulance.

The ambulance came to a stop at the intersection of Baker Street and Poplar Grove Street. The subject and the two officers ended up outside of the ambulance. The boy was able to disarm Officer Phelan before shooting him in the chest and the other officer in the leg. The boy was shot a second time and taken into custody and then admitted in the hospital. His two companions, one his brother 19, and the other 22, were apprehended a few days later.

The killer, 17, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. His sentenced was later commuted to life. The other two were convicted of robbing the liquor store and several more robberies. Both were sentenced to long prison terms.

Officer Phelan had served with the Baltimore City Police Department for four months. He was survived by his wife.


  • Age 21
  • Tour 4 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

juvenile offender, robbery

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace always and know that your service and sacrifice are always remembered.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

September 29, 2020

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