Detective James J. Caplis

Detective James J. Caplis

Chicago Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Monday, December 21, 1931

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James J. Caplis

Detective James Caplis was shot and killed when he interrupted a robbery while off duty at the Beach View Garden Café at 804 W. Wilson Avenue.

Shortly after 1:00 a.m. five men entered the cafe armed with revolvers and shotguns and ordered the diners against the wall.

Detective Caplis was at a table with his date. He loitered behind the other patrons as they walked toward the designated wall. Suddenly he broke away from the other customers and ran to the rear wall while drawing his revolver in an attempt to separate himself from the other robbery victims.

He opened exchanged shots with one of the subjects. He pursued the men as they fled from the cafe and continued to exchange shots with them. He was struck by one round and was fatally wounded.

Caplis was a winner of The Tribune Monthly Hero Award in June 1928.

On December 27, 1931, two 17-year-old juveniles were arrested and confessed that they participated in the slaying. Three other subjects were also arrested and charged with murder. Two juvenile females were also arrested.

One of the offenders received 99 years. The two 17-year-olds received 14 years, one was sentenced to 50 years, and the fifth to 20 years in prison. The sentences for both girls were stricken. The one sentenced to 99 years was paroled on March 25th, 1965. The two 17-year-olds were paroled in 1939 and 1941. Both went on to become notorious gangsters. One was shot and killed in 1951 during an armed robbery attempt. The other, who became heavily involved in drugs, was shot and killed in 1954 by rival gang members as he was driving his car.

Detective Caplis was survived by his mother, father, and sister.


  • Age 31
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 1511

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender 1 shot and killed

juvenile offender, off duty, robbery

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You gave your life protecting others God bless you.

Michael caplis

March 11, 2024

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