police patrolmen and a bootlegger were shot when police raided a
cabaret, the Cotton Club, 718 Sixth Avenue North, to investigate a fist
fight at 4 a.m. on February 3, 1928.
Wounded in the cabaret gunplay were:
James H. TREPANIER, 32 years old, 4214 Nicollet Avenue South, near
death at General Hospital, with a bullet wound in his abdomen and one
in his left shoulder. A dozen policemen volunteered to give him their
blood in an attempt to save his life.
Wynne, 39 years old, 3823 Bryant Avenue North, World War hero, was
wounded in a gunfight two years ago in which Minneapolis Police
Sergeant Michael Lawrence was killed, and Wynne was shot three times in
the legs. In this latest pistol battle at the cabaret, Officer Wynne
was again shot in the leg.
Harry Bloom, also known as “Kid Cann”, a bootlegger and notorious North Minneapolis character, also shot in the leg.
Police gave the following account of the early morning shooting:
3:30 a.m., two men guests at the Cotton Club attempted to flirt with a
woman entertainer. A friend of the woman objected, pistols were drawn
and a fist fight followed, police were told by witnesses.
patrons closed in on the fighters and quieted them. Meanwhile someone
had called the police and informed them a pistol had been drawn at the
cafe. Patrolmen TREPANIER and Wynne walked into the cabaret, drew their
pistols and commanded patrons of the cafe to line up to be searched for
“Call the wagon while I search them,” Officer TREPANIER told Officer Wynne.
TREPANIER started to search the first patron in line and Wynne walked
to the telephone, a table was overturned in one end of the cabaret.
Five men were standing around the overturned table.
was a tense moment while the two police and five men glared at each
other. Then, with a sudden movement, one of the men drew a pistol and
opened fire on the officers. In a second several other pistols were
drawn in the crowd.
At the first shot, Officer
TREPANIER fell to the floor, severely wounded, and after two or three
more shots, Office Wynne staggered when a bullet struck his leg. Both
patrolmen returned the fire.
For a moment Pandemonium
reigned. Pistols barked and filled the small hall with their roar.
Bullets thudded into the walls, splintered chairs and tables and broke
Women and men alike screamed, dodging,
scurrying and fighting to cover. Patrons turned over tables and cowered
behind them, fear in their eyes.
stretched on the floor, groaning from his wounds, braced his right arm
with his left hand and emptied his pistol at armed men in the place.
Wynne only staggered when a bullet struck his leg. He emptied his
pistol at the crowd and, despite the pain of his wound, brought them to
order. Waving his empty pistol at the disordered mob, he commanded:
all of you line up here and be quiet.” He called the patrol wagon and
loaded the thirty remaining patrons of the cabaret into it, directing
that they be taken to police headquarters.
headquarters, all but eight were released. These eight were lodged in
jail and questioned after three pistols were seized from them.
and gun squads were sent out through the city seeking other persons
believed to have escaped during the gunfight. On a tip from a man whose
car was found standing in front of the cabaret, detectives were sent to
St. Paul in search of three men believed to have been companions of the
man said to have started the shooting.
Bloom, who was
taken to General Hospital under guard after he had been questioned by
police, is said to be the same Harry Bloom who gave himself up May 1,
1924, and was charged with first degree murder in connection with the
shooting of a man in a loop cafe. Bloom told police he had shot the man
accidentally. He was never prosecuted on the charge.
condition of officer TREPANIER remained unchanged at General Hospital,
as two patrolmen submitted to blood transfusion operations in an
attempt to save his life. Office Wynne and Harry Bloom, both shot in
the leg, were reported out of danger.
Police Frank Brunskill ordered the Cotton Club establishment closed and
declared his intentions to close every similar place in Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, every cabaret in the city was under police observation. A
week later, the license of the Cotton Club was revoked by the city
council for violating city ordinances.
County grand jury indicted four men on first degree assault charges in
connection with the shooting of the two patrolmen at the cabaret.
of the four was Harry Bloom, who was charged with the shooting and
wounding of Patrolman Wynne. Bloom went into court and pleaded not
guilty to the charge, and was released on $2,500 bond.
other three indicted men, who are all charged with shooting Patrolman
Trepanier, are still at large. Of these three men sought by police, one
is a former South Dakota sheriff who had served a term in the South
Dakota penitentiary, a second is a Sioux Falls South Dakota fight
manager and the third is a former St. Paul barkeeper.
TREPANIER never recovered from the injuries he suffered in the gun
battle. One bullet struck him in the spine, paralyzing him from the
Since the shooting, TREPANIER had been in
the hospital numerous times. Once, after he had partially recovered, he
opened a jewelry store at Lake Street and Chicago Avenue South, but
soon afterward went back to the hospital. Later, he moved his jewelry
repair bench to Veterans’ Hospital where he designed and made jewelry
and repaired watches when able to sit up.
TREPANIER waged a ten year long fight against his paralysis, but he had
grown worse steadily for more than a year, and finally succumbed on
September 20, 1938, at the U.S. Veterans’ Hospital. He was 42 years old
when he died.
TREPANIER had been a patrolman for 5
years at the time of his injury. He had been cited for bravery in the
capture of a bandit in 1924. He had served as a motorcycle policemen
prior to his transfer to the North Side precinct.
Officer TREPANIER was survived by his wife and two daughters.