Patrolman Mathias J. Degan

Patrolman Mathias J. Degan

Chicago Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Tuesday, May 4, 1886

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Mathias J. Degan

Officer Mathias J. Degan was with other officers assigned to disperse crowds near Haymarket Square. A bomb was thrown and exploded amidst the officers. Officer Degan was struck by shrapnel. He was the first of eight officers to die in what is known as the historic Haymarket Tragedy.

Officer Degan served with the Chicago Police Department for a year and a half and was assigned to the 3rd Precinct. Officer Degan was a widower who was survived by his son; he is buried in Saint Boniface Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.

Eight men were arrested and charged with the officers' murders. Seven were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The other one was sentenced to 15 years. On November 11, 1887, four of them were executed by hanging. The day before, one of the suspects killed himself in his cell with a smuggled dynamite cap which he detonated in his mouth. The other three were pardoned by Governor Altgeld in 1893. Of the eight charged, historical reports note only two were at the scene. The bomber was never correctly identified or brought to court.

Eight police officers were killed during the Haymarket Riot labor dispute. The officers were at the scene of a civil disorder when the rioters opened fire and threw a bomb into the crowd. Eight police officers suffered fatal wounds and 70 other people were injured by the gunfire and explosion.

The officers who were killed included Patrolman Mathias Degan, Patrolman John Barrett, Patrolman George Miller, Patrolman Timothy Flavin, Patrolman Thomas Redden, Patrolman Nels Hansen and Patrolman Michael Sheehan. Patrolman Timothy Sullivan succumbed to his wounds two years later, on June 13, 1888.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 1 year, 6 months
  • Badge 648

Incident Details

  • Cause Bomb
  • Weapon Explosives; Bomb
  • Offender Four executed

bomb, crowd control, protest

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No passage of time can ever erase your service and sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

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

May 6, 2021

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