Patrolman John Harold Tennyson

Patrolman John Harold Tennyson

Louisville Police Department, Kentucky

End of Watch Sunday, August 14, 1949

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John Harold Tennyson

Patrolman Tennyson was shot and killed in a running gun battle with the notorious gangster, Earl David Bircham, when he interrupted a robbery at 9:15 pm. Patrolman Tennyson had stopped by a downtown restaurant to see his wife when the incident occurred. Bircham was captured by a former marine when he ran into the back yard of the marine's home right after he killed Patrolman Tennyson in the 2500 block of East Burnett Avenue.

Earl David Bircham, known as public enemy #1 by the FBI, was wanted in Kentucky, Tennesee, Kansas, and Ohio for several armed robberies and burglaries. He had escaped three times from different jails and almost escaped from the Louisville Jail after being confined there for killing Patroman Tennyson. He was so good at escaping that two guards with shotguns were assigned to watch him 24 hours a day. Bircham was convicted of Patrolman Tennyson's murder and executed in the electric chair on Febuary 1, 1952.

Patrolman Tennyson was a U.S Navy veteran of WWII and had served with the Louisville Police Department for seven years. He was survived by his wife.


  • Age 30
  • Tour 7 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Executed in 1952


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Rest in peace always knowing that your service and sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten by your law enforcement brethren.

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

August 14, 2020

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