Police Officer Lewis O. Knapp

Police Officer Lewis O. Knapp

Pennsylvania Coal and Iron Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Monday, February 7, 1927

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Lewis O. Knapp

Police Officer Lewis Knapp was shot and killed while attempting to question two subjects with another officer who had brought moonshine on the property of the Vesta Coal Company near Brownsville.

Police Officer Paul Fox and Officer Knapp had witnessed the two men carrying a five-gallon can of moonshine from a vehicle in an attempt to sell it on the property. They approached the subjects as they entered the coal company's property. Both men shot at the officers, striking Officer Knapp in the head, killing him, and striking Officer Fox in the shoulder, arm, and back as he lay on the ground. Both subjects fled the area through a railway. A posse was quickly organized after the shooting but failed to capture the men.

Officer Fox was rushed to a hospital in Brownsville, where he fell unconscious after giving the license plate number of the vehicle that dropped off both subjects to investigators. The license number quickly led to the arrest of one suspect, age 31. He was convicted of one count of murder and sentenced to life. He applied for a commutation of his sentence on November 26, 1942, after his attorney convinced Governor Arthur H. James that he shot at the officers, but it was the other suspect that killed them both. He was released a few weeks later.

The second suspect, age 31, was arrested in New York in September of 1927 for assaulting a man during a card game. He was convicted of assault and sentenced to one year in West Chester Penitentiary under a false name. After serving 58 days, he escaped. A few days later, he was shot and seriously wounded by police in Elizabeth, New Jersey, when he opened fire on them as they attempted to take him into custody. While in the hospital, he took a turn for the worse and asked to see the police when he thought he was going to die. He told officials his real name and confessed that he shot and killed Officer Fox and Officer Knapp. He recovered, was returned to Washington County, convicted of two counts of murder, and sentenced to death. He was executed in the electric chair on January 14, 1929.

Officer Knapp was a United States Army WWI veetran and served with the Pennsylvania Coal and Iron Police for two years. He was survived by his wife and one child.


  • Age 31
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Executed in 1929

alcohol violation

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer had served in World War I and is buried Forest Lawn Cemetery, Kane, McKean County Pennsylvania

T Fazzini

April 8, 2024

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