Patrolman John W. Quirk

Patrolman John W. Quirk

Chicago Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Monday, January 13, 1958

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John W. Quirk

Patrolman John W. Quirk was shot three times by two gunmen at the intersection of N. Cleveland Avenue and W. Wisconsin Streets.

Patrolman Quirk was off duty on his first date with a young woman. One of their first stops that evening included a tour of the Shakespeare Avenue Station, 2131 N. California where he was assigned. Their second stop was a restaurant at 3801 W. Fullerton where they had a chance meeting with his partner and visited for some time.

He was driving an acquaintance home and pulled in front of 22 East Banks Street at approximately 2:30 am. The moment the vehicle came to a stop, two men jumped into the back of the car from each side with guns drawn. Patrolman Quirk was forced to drive in the area of the north side. While approaching the intersection of W. Wisconsin Avenue and N. Cleveland Avenue he intentionally crashed his vehicle into a street lamp. While drawing his service revolver, he fired into the rear of the vehicle hitting one suspect in the hand. Patrolman Quirk used his body to shield his companion from the bullets as the shooting started. He was mortally wounded in the exchange. The young woman was able to identify the assailants.

After a city-wide manhunt, one gunman was immediately arrested. The second surrendered to the FBI and was turned over to Chicago Police Department homicide division.

Both suspects, each 23, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life. Both received additional life terms for several armed robberies they committed together. During each robbery they severely pistol whipped their victims. During a liquor store robbery a third robber held a gun to the owners head and he was forced to watch as the two bit his tiny wife and pistol whipped her almost to death. She had to have psychiatric care the remainder of her life.

On May 1, 1969, one was paroled under a protective coat of secrecy. Those who met with unknown parole board officials were his father, president of the Venders Employee Union, a man with considerable influence. Others who were there or either contacted the parole officials, were a U.S. Congressman, two Illinois State Legislature representatives, and the president of another labor union. The parole enraged our entire nation. The chairman of the parole board, prison officials, the Chicago Police, and Patrolman Quirk's family, learned of the parole a week later. Six months later the Illinois Legislature passed into law a list of safeguards that they said would keep "what happened" from ever happening again. The other suspect was not considered for parole but was released at some point before his death in 1986.

The paroled killer would go on to succeed his father as president of the Venders Employee Union when he died in 1973. In 1986 he was the subject of a major FBI investigation when a Chicago Mafia Organization threatened to kill him if they were not allowed to take over his union.

Patrolman Quirk was a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who served two years in Japan.


  • Age 23
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 9866
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender One paroled in 1969

off duty, robbery

Most Recent Reflection

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You were taken from us too early but you are present with our heavenly father. You are as fine a police officer as I ever heard of. Thank you for your bravery and dedication. You will never be forgotten. Rest in peace brother.

Fellow citizen

January 13, 2023

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