Patrolman John J. Gerka, Jr.

Patrolman John J. Gerka, Jr.

Hammond Police Department, Indiana

End of Watch Saturday, January 11, 1947

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John J. Gerka, Jr.

Patrolman John Gerka was training two rookie officers when he went to investigate a suspicious car parked on Cleveland Street near Kenwood School.

As Patrolman Gerka walked to the side of the auto, a man leaned out and shot him at point-blank range, hitting him in the heart with a .45-caliber bullet. One of the rookies, Patrolman Donald Cook, was also shot and died two days later. The second rookie disarmed the shooter by wrestling his pistol from him, but was struck on the head by a second man and knocked to the ground.

A manhunt combed the area, then the state, looking for both suspects. Sometime later, Hammond detectives arrested two suspects for the crimes. Both suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On February 23, 1949, both men were executed by electrocution.

Patrolman Gerka had served in the U.S. Army during World War II and served with the Hammond Police Department for over one year. He is survived by his parents.


  • Age 36
  • Tour 1 year, 2 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .45 caliber
  • Offender Executed in 1949

suspicious vehicle

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Patrolman Gerka,
On today, the 75th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just for your Community but for our Country as well when you served with the U.S. Army in Europe fighting the Germans during World War II as a member of the 45th “Thunderbird” Infantry Division. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

January 11, 2022

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