Patrolman Harry McGRAW shot and killed a bandit and was himself
seriously wounded in a pistol duel in the Loring Park Pharmacy, 1500
Hennepin Avenue, on Saturday, January 31, 1931.
McGRAW was one of 200 patrolmen and police officers on special duty,
who were “planted” in stores throughout the city in an attempt to halt
the wave of banditry that had struck the city.
police rollcall at the central station on Saturday, Captain George
Hillstrom warned the officers, “These men are liable to shoot. You’d
better shoot first and argue afterward. But wait until you are sure a
holdup is in progress.”
Patrolman McGRAW was hidden in
back of the prescription counter in the rear of the drugstore when the
bandit entered shortly before 10 p.m.
was standing by the cash register, behind the cigar counter. A 20 year
old female clerk was behind the soda fountain.
bandit loitered in the front of the store for 15 minutes, then stepped
up to the proprietor. “Give me something for a cold,” he said. As the
druggist turned, the bandit drew a pistol.
up. This is a holdup, so take it easy,” he snapped. The druggist obeyed
orders, thrusting his hands into the air. “Put the money in the bag,”
the robber commanded. The druggist took $65 from the cash register and
put it in a money bag. “Now the safe,” the gunman snapped. The woman
clerk and the proprietor started toward the rear room containing the
safe, followed by the bandit.
As they started to go
behind the door into the rear room, Patrolman McGRAW stepped out from
concealment, with his pistol drawn. He pushed the woman behind him.
policeman and the bandit were standing face to face, not more than five
feet apart. Instead of shooting at once, Patrolman McGRAW twice ordered
the bandit to “stick em up.”
Instead of obeying, the
bandit fired. His bullet struck McGRAW in the chest. At the same
instant, McGRAW’s pistol barked. His bullet struck the bandit in the
right chest, jerking him around.
Both men started to
fall to the floor. Patrolman McGRAW steadied himself, and as he
dropped, fired another shot. The bandit fell headforemost. A split
second later, McGRAW tumbled forward, falling on the robber’s body.
dramatic scene was enacted when police answered the alarm to the
drugstore after the shooting. Detective George Henseler and Sergeant
Louis Larson were first to reach the drugstore. Both had known
Patrolman McGRAW for years and were close friends of his.
Henseler did not know who had been shot. He rushed across the room and
rolled McGRAW off the bandit’s body, face up. He recoiled as he
recognized McGRAW, then he dropped to his knees beside the wounded man.
“Harry! Harry!” he said hoarsely. “Speak to me-won’t
you?” McGRAW opened his eyes briefly, closed them again, and said,
beneath his breath, “They got me, I guess, George.”
Sergeant Larson, policeman of the old school, was visibly shaken. His face grew ashen when he saw Patrolman McGRAW.
several minutes, so shocked were the policemen to find McGRAW wounded,
no one paid attention to the body of the bandit, dead on the floor.
The first call that went over the police radio was:
“Harry McGRAW has been shot up at 1500 Hennepin Avenue. His condition is bad.”
No mention of the bandit. But a few minutes later, the call went out:
“Harry got his man before he was wounded. He killed a bandit in the drugstore.”
McGRAW was rushed to General Hospital, where an examination showed the
bullet had entered his right chest. His condition was serious,
Over the police radio, a call was
broadcast for volunteers to give their blood to the traffic officer.
Fifteen minutes later, police cars began rolling up in front of General
Hospital and unloading volunteers.
Within half an hour, nearly 50 policemen had reported at the hospital to offer their blood to their friend.
few minutes later the order went over the air to call at the McGraw
home and take Mrs. McGraw to General Hospital. “Mrs. McGraw knows
nothing of the shooting. Take it easy,” so the order went.
McGRAW lingered until 7:00 p.m. the next evening, February 1, 1931,
when he died at General Hospital after a brave fight for his life. He
rallied strongly late in the day, but his body became paralyzed and he
The dead robber was identified as Harry
Weiner, a 24 year old St. Paul bandit who resembled a man police had
been looking for. Before his body was released from the Hennepin County
morgue, Weiner was identified by victims of 20 Minneapolis and St. Paul
robberies. He was one of the pair of nattily dressed bandits who
executed 13 raids, chiefly on drugstores, in Minneapolis and seven in
St. Paul within the past month, and who escaped in a pistol duel with
Patrolman Barton Kyhn in the Riverview Pharmacy, on East Twenty-fifth
Street, a week earlier.
Police began searching for
Weiner’s confederate in the series of robberies, and arrested Roy
Odenwald, also of St. Paul. He confessed to being Weiner’s partner on
the Loring Park Pharmacy robbery, and was waiting in a car outside,
escaping when he heard the shots. Odenwald was indicted for murder and
convicted. He was sent to Stillwater prison.
policemen said that Patrolman McGRAW lost his life because of his
extreme code of fairness. He had many times said he would never shoot a
man unless he was forced to do so.
“Many officers would
have shot from concealment, and most of them certainly would have fired
when the bandit failed to obey the first order to surrender,” said
Chief of Police Harry Lindholm.
“McGraw was too fair.
But he got his man. He did his duty, even though he gave his life doing
it. And he will have undying honor among our police for his bravery. I
cannot express how deeply his death affects me. Patrolman McGraw was
one of our finest officers,” said Chief Lindholm.
chief termed McGraw’s death “a shameful result of the city’s false
economy in not allowing equipment of the police department with bullet
“The deaths of Patrolman McGRAW and
Detective Harry PARKER could have been averted had the city only
allowed us to equip our men with bullet proof vests,” the chief said.
going before the council police committee at its next meeting and
demand the appropriation of $15,000 for purchase of this equipment.”
Mayor William F. Kunze paid tribute to Patrolman McGRAW. The mayor said
he would back Chief Lindholm’s demand for bullet proof vests for the
Police headquarters later revealed
that it was a quirk of fate that sent Patrolman McGRAW to his death at
the hands of the robber he killed.
McGRAW, who was
originally off duty on this fateful Saturday night, volunteered to come
in to substitute for another patrolman who failed to report for duty at
the pharmacy. Four hours later, Patrolman McGRAW was lying fatally
wounded on top of the body of Weiner, the bandit.
wife blamed herself for her husband’s death. They had gotten married
shortly after he started out as a young police officer. “I always
begged Harry never to shoot a man unless it was absolutely necessary. I
asked him when he used to go down in the basement to practice his
markmanship. He tried to keep his promise and died doing it. We thought
it was better to give a man a chance, that it would always be better to
bring him in alive,” she said. “He surely was thinking of that when he
faced the bandit, because he hesitated and was shot first.”
wanted to know if ‘everything was all right’ just before he died. There
wasn’t a black mark against him. He gave his life to keep this a safe
Patrolman McGRAW had been on the police force
for almost 26 years. With the organization of the police traffic squad
on August 17, 1910, McGRAW became one of its original members. He had
been stationed at Fifth Street and Nicollet Avenue as a traffic
policeman for 20 years, and was known to thousands of Minneapolis
residents. McGRAW was famed for his alertness and courtesy to
motorists, and had been awarded honors by the Minneapolis Automobile
Funeral services for Patrolman McGRAW were
conducted on Wednesday, February 4, 1931, at the Church of the
Incarnation. His body was taken to his former home at Greenleaf,
Minnesota, near Litchfield, for burial. His fellow policemen formed a
guard of honor at the services.
tragic death ended plans for a long vacation – he would have been
eligible for pension May 1, on his fiftieth birthday. He intended to
leave the busy corner and see something of the world.
The McGraw’s had no children, a daughter died in infancy. The family home was at 3812 Second Avenue South.