Police Officer John McKenna

Police Officer John McKenna

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Missouri

End of Watch Friday, April 7, 1916

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John McKenna

Police Officer John McKenna was shot and killed at 618 N Whittier Street while investigating three brothers, ages 19, 20, and 21, he believed were stealing copper streetcar wire.

He had observed a car believed to be used in the thefts and stopped the three occupants. When he searched the men he located a revolver on one of them, at which time he escorted them to a nearby business. One of the men asked if he could get a drink of water and Officer McKenna allowed him to do so. As the man walked behind Officer McKenna he produced a small handgun hidden in his waistband and shot him in the back of the head, killing him.

The three men fled the scene and went to their home. Officer William Dillon, who received a description of the car while checking in during his rounds, recognized it as a car belonging to the brothers. He went to their home and spotted them in the garage. As he entered the garage at gunpoint he was attacked from behind with a hatchet and a shovel. The three suspects beat and hacked him to death and then buried his body in a shallow grave.

One suspect was apprehended. The other two were apprehended five months later; one in St. Louis and the other in Kansas. Two were convicted of murder. One was sentenced to hang and the other to life. The one sentenced to hang soon had his sentence commuted to life. The third suspect died in the county jail in Topeka, Kansas on October 18, 1918, from influenza. He was being held on a federal charge for robbing a post office before being returned to Missouri. Another escaped from prison on April 23, 1939, and was captured in New Orleans on October 24, 1939, when he was caught burglarizing a tavern. He was returned to the Missouri Penitentiary where on January 6, 1941, he was pardoned by Governor Lloyd C. Stark. The other suspect was paroled on June 30, 1951, and returned to prison on August 11, 1953, for violating his parole.

Police Officer McKenna was survived by his wife and father.


  • Age 29
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life


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Rest in peace Officer McKenna.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

January 5, 2021

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