February 7, 1919, police detectives James A. Weare and J.J. McGuire
were involved in the efforts of the police department to round up
persons suspected of the series of robberies occurring within the last
two months in Minneapolis.
The two detectives
were sent to a home at 52 Twenty-second Avenue NE to find a suspect
named Albert Gentz, and question him concerning a robbery of which he
was suspected of having knowledge.
Police had learned
that Gentz was hiding out at his sister’s home and planned to leave
that night for Fort Dodge, Iowa. Both detectives were disguised as
When the detectives reached the house, they
were met at the door by the suspect’s sister. They entered the home and
explained that they were looking for Albert Gentz. “He is not here,”
the woman replied. Detective McGuire continued to question the woman
while Detective Weare began to look around the house. A closed bedroom
door attracted his attention and he opened it and pressed into the
darkened interior. Then a shot was fired from somewhere back in the
room. A pistol bullet pierced Detective Weare heart and he fell dead.
The bullet had struck Weare’s pocket watch, had been deflected upwards
and apparently passed through his heart.
shot, Detective McGuire ran to the rear of the house and found Weare
stretched dead upon the floor, just outside the bedroom. Albert Gentz
ran out the bedroom, hatless and coatless, past the detectives and out
the rear door with Detective McGuire in pursuit.
McGuire reached the back yard, he saw Gentz running across it toward
the alley, seemingly bent on escape. McGuire’s order to halt was
unheeded and the detective fired at the fugitive as he was trying to
climb over a backyard fence. The bullet caught the bandit, striking him
in the side, passing through his body and killing him instantly.
identification of the dead bandit Gentz, as the robber who had held up
numerous stores in the city, was made at the city morgue by the victims
of the holdups, who viewed the body. One of the victims shot at the
robber and believed that he had wounded him, and on Gentz’s left
shoulder there was found a freshly healed bullet wound concealed by a
piece of adhesive tape.
With the identification of
Albert Gentz, as the bandit who held up numerous groceries and meat
markets, the police department began a bandit cleanup. “Shoot to kill,”
was the order of Chief of Police John F. Walker. “If any bandit suspect
tries to escape after once ordered to halt, shoot to kill.”
Gentz’s record, as shown in the Bertillion records, was as follows:
October 13, 1903 – Sent to Anoka County jail for attempting to wreck a train.
October, 1910 – Sent to Minneapolis workhouse for 90 days for vagrancy.
October 31, 1911 – Sent to Minnesota state reformatory at St. Cloud for grand larceny. Later paroled.
May 9, 1915 – Parole violated. Police asked to place him under arrest.
James A. Weare first worked as a patrolman under the J.C. Haynes
administration when Frank Corriston was chief of police. His work in
rounding up robbers in the river district caused the chief to put him
on the detective force.
When Wallace G. Nye became
mayor, Detective Weare was made night captain in charge of police
headquarters. He resigned late in the Nye administration after charges
of receiving graft were made against him. He was tried and acquitted in
the district court and returned to the police department as a
detective. For two years prior to January 1, 1919, he was assigned
mostly to automobile theft cases. Several times while he was night
captain, he was in pistol battles with robber suspects but was never
Mayor J.E. Meyers and Police Chief Walker
issued a call to the public to subscribe to a fund for the family of
Weare. Mrs. Weare, it was explained, was in the hospital threatened
with the loss of her sight. The family home at 2749 Polk Street NE is
mortgaged for $500.00.
Mrs. Weare will receive $500.00
from the Police Relief Association and $300.00 from the Police Mutual
Benefit Association. It is the aim of Mayor Meyer and Police Chief
Walker to raise contributions to assure her against want, they said.
sure the public will be appreciative of the service of Detective Weare
in helping to safeguard the city,” said Chief Walker. “I know they will
not let the widow and his little girl suffer.”
Midland National Bank was appointed by Mayor Meyers as treasurer of the
fund. The mayor and chief already had received contributions amounting
to $127.00. The first money turned in at the office of the chief came
from the jail elevator man who brought in $1 for the widow.
services for the 40 year old Detective Weare were conducted on February
10, 1919 at his home, followed by the Masonic ritual at the Scottish
Rite cathedral, Franklin and Dupont Avenues SE. Burial was in Lakewood
Chief Walker detailed a large detachment of
policemen and detectives as an escort of honor at the funeral. The
police ban played, and members of the Minneapolis fire department and a
delegation of the switchmen’s union also marched from the home.
praise of the courage and ability of Detective Weare was given by
Detective Frank Brunskill, who had been his partner on the city
detective force since October 1, 1915. Since they were assigned to work
together by former Mayor Nye, the pair had seldom been separated for a
day of the more than three years.
“We were assigned to
burglaries and holdups,” said Detective Brunskill. “We got into some
tight places, but ‘Bert’ never showed any fear. He had a peculiar
personality and held many a dangerous man at bay with his eye. I have
seen him laugh at gunmen when they could have shot him, but instead
peaceably handed over their guns to him.”
Weare was survived by his wife and a daughter, also two sisters and two
brothers. It is said that he assisted his sister to attend the
University of Minnesota.
Only a few days before his
death, Detective Weare had learned his brother, in overseas service
with a regiment of engineers, had been wounded. He expressed great
anxiety to see his brother landed safely home.
Brunskill said that on February 7th, when Weare sent with Detective
McGuire to the home of Albert Gentz’s sister, leaving Brunskill at the
Est Side police station, he had a premonition that something out of the
ordinary was going to happen. “I called up his sister a short time
after he went up northeast Minneapolis,” said Detective Brunskill. “She
said ‘Bert’ had passed the house and she wanted to know what he was
doing in the neighborhood.” “The errand he originally started on was to
recover an overcoat that had been stolen. Ten minutes after my tale
with his sister the report came in that he had been killed.”