The Felon's Fang


The Hunt Is On For A Buffalo Cop Killer.


Following the Lightning Path of Buffalo’s Green-Tooth Slayer By Captain GEORGE F. TOURJIE, Buffalo New York Police Department


True Detective Magazine, November 1940,


Deborah Kufel - Typist


The Winter of 1929-1930 was a tough one for Buffalo Police. Fighting gangs of bootleggers, hijackers and rum-runners were making the snowy Niagara frontier a crimson battleground.


Narcotics peddlers were stealthily pursuing their nefarious calling. Lightning thrusts or armed robbers kept merchants cowed.


Federal agents co-operated with the police in the war on liquor runners, dope and vice. But the robberies were the police department’s own problem-a headache shared by all of us from Commissioner Austin J. Roche down to the patrolman pounding their beats, and including me and my fellow-members of the auto squad


From late in September until the first of February , forty-one holdups had been reported in the city and only eight arrests had been made.


The newspapers clamored for action. We were even more anxious than they to wipe the unsolved cases off our records. Every apparently successful stickup, we knew, lent encouragement to scores of young fellows who thought armed robbery an easy to make a living. But as hard as we tried, the list of unsolved cases grew longer.


Some of the robbers worked in bands, others in pairs, but several operated alone.


The elusive A&P bandit was one of these. Since the previous November he had robbed managers of East Side grocery stores of money mounting into the thousands of dollars.


Holdups in a few stores belonging to other chains were attributed to him, but branches of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company appeared to be his favorites. Our records accused him of ten of these jobs in about the same number of weeks.

His procedure was well patterned. Early Monday morning, before the Saturday receipts had been banked, he would enter a store when no customers were present, whip out a revolver, force the manager, and clerk if one were present, to reveal where the store’s cash was hidden, and truss his victims up in the rear room with clothesline from the store’s stocks.


Hastily stuffing his haul into his pockets, he would dash to a car parked near by and speed away. His visits were brief but effective. By the time the police arrived he had vanished like a phantom.


Store managers told our detectives that the gunman was a slim, blond young man, about five feet ten, with a scar on his lip and wearing sideburns, a fashion that became popular among the “sheiks” of that day in imitation of Rudolph Valentino.


And several managers added-as the bandit curled his lip back to snarl his commands, he bared a discolored front tooth of a greenish hue.

Captain George F. Tourjie Buffalo Police Department

The detectives poured over record cards of known robbers in an endeavor to find the one with a greenish tooth and a scarred lip. They found nobody answering that description. They summoned store managers to Headquarters to examine pictures of likely suspects. Looking at the rogues gallery of photographs, the managers shook their heads.


Studying the detectives reports of the chain store stickups, Commissioner Roche and Night Chief William R. Connolly looked for information on the man’s operations. Finally the Commissioner smashed a fist on his desk.

“it’s useless to chase this fellow!” he exclaimed. “we’ve got to trap him! Most of his jobs have been pulled on Monday mornings, so from now on our men are going to be waiting for him.


A patrolman will be stationed every Monday morning in each A&P store in the vicinity in which he has been operating. The patrolmen will have to work overtime, but these robberies must me stopped”


The baited traps were set, but after a month the bandit still had eluded capture. Perhaps he got 

wind of the preparations for his reception, for he suddenly changed his operating methods.


He robbed a couple of stores outside the guarded district, then shifted his forays from Monday mornings to Saturday nights, just before closing time. He was still making big hauls and a good portion of the force continued to lose sleep waiting for him.


When Commissioner Roche heard that he had been outmaneuvered, he became thoughtful. “It’s tough to put extra loads on the patrolmen” he told Chief Connolly, “but we’ve got to get this man.


Have a policeman assigned to each store for an hour before closing time every Saturday and continue the morning details. If he keeps, he’s got to walk into the trap sooner or later.”


Commissioner Austin J. Roche


Patrolman Carl L. Wunderlich was one of the men called upon for extra duty as part of the elaborate snare. Thus it was that , after pounding his beat through the snowy night

and the gray dawn of February 3rd, 1930 he rapped sharply on the door of the A&P store at 646 Sycamore Street , near Sherman .


Joseph S. Braun, twenty-two, of 118 Lemon Street , acting manager of the branch during the illness of his father, emerged from the back room carrying a basket of vegetables to place on the display. Heeding the knock, he deposited his load on the floor and stepped to the door.


Patrolman Wunderlich entered, stamping snow from his feet.


“Hope you’ve got a good fire, Joe,” the policeman remarked. “This is blue Monday and I’m just about blue from the cold. The temperature’s been dropping since midnight .”


“I got the stove roaring as soon as I came to open up,” Braun responded. “It’s fairly warm in the back room now.”

“Doggone you’re A&P bandit,” groused Wunderlich. “If it weren’t for him I could be on my way home by now.”


“Well, if he shows up you better be ready for him,” Braun countered. “We had a lively Saturday night trade and I’ve got quite a stack of money hidden in back waiting for the bank to open.”


Patrolman Wundelich stood for a moment longer inside the door, watching Braun and his assistant, Harold R. Chapin, twenty-three, arranging displays.


To the right of the entrance a growing accumulation of trays and baskets contained fruits and vegetables. To the left stood the long grocery counter, the cash register at the wall behind it. At the rear of the store, forming an L with the grocery counter, was the shorter butter and cheese counter.


The patrolman’s gaze turned to the partition that separated the store from the rear room.


“Say, when are you going to move those bags of potatoes from that wall and bore a peephole there for me? He asked.

Young Braun was apologetic.


“I don’t like to take that responsibility, Carl,” he responded. “Maybe, when Dad gets back…”


“I might as well be home in bed as guarding this place,” the policeman remarked ruefully. “I’d have to stand in the doorway back there to know what’s going on out here. Well, I’m going back by the stove.”


He stalked to the entrance to the rear room, which was placed midway of the partition, just beyond the end of the butter counter and about on a line with the front door.


Turning as he passed through the doorway, he skirted a masking partition which hid the rear room from the curious eyes of customers.

In a little while Chapin came back an sat down a short distance from the patrolman to work on the store’s books.

Shortly after eight o’clock , Braun was crouched in the front window, taking an inventory of special sale merchandise. A blond young man entered, his hands in his pockets and his coat collar turned high against the cold and snow.


Descending from the window, Braun stepped behind the counter and asked politely: “what will you have?”


For answer, the man snatched his right hand from his overcoat pocket and leveled a nickel-plated revolver at the white-aproned figure of the manager.


“Get to the back!” he ordered softly.


Braun stared apprehensively at the man’s ruthless face, which showed a scar slitting the thin lips. He regarded the weapon in the bandit’s hand and wondered if Wunderlich and Chapin had heard.


“What do you want?” he asked as loudly as he dared, but his voice shook uncertainly.


The gunman leaned forward menacingly and merely gestured again toward the rear room.


Braun dared not shout, for fear of being shot. He could only hope that Wunderlich had been warned and standing behind the masking partition, his revolver cocked and ready.


The robber’s gun followed the manager as he edged along the grocery counter, turned behind the butter counter and reached the doorway. It was shoved into his ribs as he backed through and followed the masking partition.


As the pair approached the end of the shorter partition, the gunman’s face twisted into a snarl. Braun, facing him, caught a glimpse of a greenish tooth. “Get the stuff!” the bandit ordered. Hearing the command, Chapin slipped into an alcove, out of sight.


In the same instant, Braun saw the bandit’s alert eyes sweep the room and catch sight of the policeman.


The manager was shoved aside. A shot split the air. The gunman turned and fled.


Regaining his balance, Braun dashed through the opening in the partition, dove behind the counter and listened for Wunderlich’s revolver to reply.


After a second’s wait, he called to the patrolman: “Don’t shoot! The holdup man’s gone.


”Just then Wunderlich staggered through the doorway into the front of the store, his gun in his hand. Blood streamed down his face. As he came abreast of the butter counter, he collapsed to the floor and began to moan. Chapin dashed to his side.

Braun ran outside and confronted a neighbor.


“Call Police Headquarters and get an ambulance” he shouted. “A policeman has been shot!”


The shrill screech of an ambulance siren mingled with the scream 

of police cars as the vehicles drew up to the store.


Detective Sergeant John J. Whalen and his homicide squad cleared a path through curious onlookers for the ambulance crew. Kneeling beside the prostrate blue-coated figure, the ambulance surgeon made a quick examination.


“Shot through the right side of the face,” he murmured to Detectives Walter A. Holz and John J. Fitzgerald. “It looks as though it had pierced his jaw and neck.” The surgeon shook his head doubtfully.


He helped to lift the wounded patrolman on a stretcher and the ambulance sped him to Memorial Hospital .


While Carl Wunderlich fought for his life, the entire might of the police force was whirled into action to hunt down the criminal who had to shoot him before he’d had a chance to draw.


Commissioner Roche ordered all policemen, including day and night shifts, to work a seven-day week and recalled immediately all men on leaves of absence.


He issued a call for volunteers for raiding parties that night. More than 100 patrolmen and detectives, who had already done their normal tour of duty that day responded.


A detective with the auto squad, I was assigned to a day trick that week, but I joined the raiders.


The Commissioner was very earnest when we assembled at Headquarters for instructions.


“Men”, he said solemnly, “you know that last Saturday night two young bandits killed Adam Lampke in his butcher shop in East North Street when he resisted them. Today the A&P bandit has shot a patrolman-the very symbol of law and order-and this officer will probably die. These shootings must stop.



“The homicide squad has a line on some suspects, but we can’t rest with that. I want you to go out and bring in for investigation every suspicious character you can find. Grab any one with a police record. Be on your guard for any of these men may be a killer. Don’t shoot unless you have to, but if you shoot, don’t miss. All right, get going!


The dragnet that night swept in 400 men. Some of them had been on our “wanted” list for months.


For three days the cells at Headquarters and in the precinct stations bulged with prisoners. Several were booked on serious charges and eventually convicted. But most of them, after questioning and a checkup of their activities, were released or received suspended sentences as leased or received suspended sentences as vagrants. A few meager clues about the A&P bandit proved worthless.


Patrolman Wunderlich died the next afternoon, leaving a young widow and a baby daughter, Audrey. He had been married only two years.


We were all grimly determined that if the chance came the bandit would pay dearly for his wanton killing. Grimmest of all was Carl’s brother, Detective Henry F. Wunderlich, one of my fellow-members of the auto squad. Taking his dead brother’s service revolver, he swore he would hunt down the killer. All of us pledged our help.


Detective Sergeant Whalen and his homicide squad had been busy piecing together fragments of information. The store manager and his assistant gave descriptions of the killer. Braun mentioned the gunman’s sideburns and greenish tooth.


Charles Kelley, of 479 Sherman Street, had been walking near his home the morning of the shooting, he told Detectives Holz and Fitzgerald, when he saw a man dash around the corner from Sycamore Street, leap into a black coupe parked in Sherman Street about 100 feet from the corner and sped north. The man wore a light-colored cap and a light overcoat that came down below his knees.


The manager of the A&P branch at 440 Genesee Street came forward with another morsel of information. On the morning that Carl Wunderlich was wounded, he reported, a young man, heavily built, about five feet ten inches tall, wearing a light overcoat and light cap and a white shirt without a collar, tried the door before the store was opened.


The manager stepped to the front window and saw the man walk to a car parked nearby, get in, and drive away. He gave police the license number. They learned the automobile had been stolen the previous night from the janitor of a factory in the neighborhood. It was located soon afterward, abandoned.


Detectives theorized that the bandit, failing to gain entrance to the Genesee Street store, had driven a few blocks to the Sycamore Street grocery where he had encountered and slain Wunderlich.


Detective Chief Emanuel Schuh showed the investigators’ reports to the Commissioner Roche, who studied them closely.


“I’ll have to turn the auto squad loose on this fellow!” he exclaimed. He summoned Lieutenant Arthur D. Britt, our squad leader.


“This killing,” the Commissioner told him, “will probably compel the gunman to lie low for a while. We know definitely now that he uses stolen cars for his jobs. Sooner or later he’ll steal another one. It looks like a task for your man to nail him. Get a line on his identity and track him down.”


In those days, before the advent of two-way police radios, members of our squad saw plenty of action. Our stolen car list regularly contained thirty to thirty-five and even forty entries. Today it will rarely exceed five.


While some of the car thieves were merely joy riders who used the machines until the gas supply dwindled, more of them, we knew, were hard-boiled gunmen with nervous trigger fingers.


The auto squad had been chosen to match the daring and shooting prowess of the desperadoes it was likely to encounter. Nearly every member was a veteran of at least one gun battle with criminals.


We knew the gunmen’s technique well. They would steal a car, pull a robbery, and then quickly abandon the machine. Another favorite device was for thugs to step up to an amorous couple in a parked auto, force them at gunpoint to surrender the wheel, dump them out in a lonesome spot in the country, far from a telephone, then use the car in a robbery before police had learned it was stolen.


When Britt relayed the Commissioner’s orders, we nodded grimly. “Be careful with your guns,” our leader added. “Don’t shoot heedlessly, but be on your guard every instant. Remember this criminal has killed one of the best shots in the department. He’d just as soon kill another.”


We sallied forth, armed, to the teeth, but soon found that the Commissioner’s surmise was correct. Weeks went by and no new A&P stickups were reported. We concluded that the gunman was lying low, waiting until the “heat” was off.


Meanwhile, the homicide squad and other officers in the department ran down some hot leads. What appeared to be the hottest came from Charles A. Braden, a dispatcher for the Greyhound Bus Company at its terminal at Court and Pearl Streets.


“About ten-thirty p.m. on the day Wunderlich was shot,” Braden told Desk Lieutenant Walter E. Jackson, “a man about thirty years-old, wearing a red and black lumber jacket, came into the terminal and asked for a taxi. None was there, so he called the Van Dyke Taxi Company and asked to have one sent over. The taxi dispatcher evidently asked him his name, for he answered, “What difference does it make?” Then he gave a name I didn’t understand.


I was reading an early edition of the morning paper as he waited. He came up to me and asked whether the policeman died who was shot at the A&P grocery. He became very nervous and pulled quite a sum of money out of his pocket and counted it several times.


He hid in the corner as I walked to the top of the stairs. He asked me if the taxi was in sight. I told him I saw one coming. He came as far as the door, then looked in both directions before going out. As the taxi drove away, “I took its license number.”


Police contacted the cab driver, Leavit Wilcox, 103 Maple Street . He told where he had taken his fare and added: When I arrived there, he did not get out immediately. He paid me while in the cab, and then I noticed a woman come to a window and look out. He then got out of the cab and ran to the side door of the house. The woman seemed nervous. “I saw her go to the rear of the house, as if to let him in.”


A squad of detectives sped to the address given by Wilcox. The man was arrested, brought in and persons who had seen the killer viewed him. But they said he was not the man.


Inspections of the rogue’s gallery by murder witnesses turned up another hopeful lead. After they had selected a picture, which they said, “looked like” that of the slayer, investigation disclosed that the man had left Buffalo the day of the shooting. A devious trail led police to Toledo , Ohio , where he was picked up, waived extradition and was returned to Buffalo . But when store employees viewed him in the “show-up,” they shook their heads again.


It was one of the many false leads. But Night Chief Connolly was confident he had a more hopeful one when about two weeks after the Wunderlich slaying, he trapped a youthful desperado named Dombkiewicz into spilling a tip about an acquaintance.


Petey Dombkiewicz; his sweetheart, Sally Joyce Richards, and a third member of the “Gold Band Gang” had just been returned to Buffalo after their capture in Montgomery , Alabama . Sally later pleaded with the judge, who sentenced them both to Auburn Prison for robbery, that she be permitted to marry Petey.


Knowing that the diminutive Dombkiewicz had lived near the scene of the A&P stickup slaying and was widely acquainted in the underworld, Connolly had him brought to his office, ostensibly for a casual conversation.


The Night Chief led the conversation around to the A&P holdups. Petey seemed willing to talk.


“That guy’s using hot cars,” Petey asserted, apparently enjoying his role of oracle for the police. “Some of them he snatches from parking lots and some from the streets.”


Connolly had dug out fifteen or twenty pictures of chaps who answered the description of Wunderlich’s slayer. Several of them wore sideburns and some had defective teeth, but police didn’t have anything definite against them.


The pictures lay on Connolly’s desk as the pair talked. It was a shot in the dark, but he picked up the pictures and started going over them with Petey to watch his reaction.


The prisoner had looked at several of them and the Night Chief had about given up hope. The officer showed him another. Petey gave Connolly a hasty glance, started to say something, then stopped in confusion.


“Know him, Petey?” Connolly asked, but the prisoner saw he had given himself away and clammed up.


As soon as he had been led back to his cell, Connolly re-examined the picture that had caused Petey’s confusion. It showed a rather good-looking, blonde young man who wore his hair long on his cheeks in sideburns. His name was Walter Krajewski.


The Night Chief was elated, but puzzled too. Krajewski was a pretty bad man, but hardly the type to be tagged as a ruthless robber and killer.


From notations on the card Connolly determined that Krajewski was then a little less than twenty-two years old. Seven years before, he had been arrested for larceny and juvenile delinquency and had received a year’s probation. At sixteen he had been nabbed in a dice game and fined five dollars. A year later he was arrested on a petit larceny charge, but the card didn’t show the disposition of the case. At eighteen he had been arrested for burglary and received an indefinite term in Elmira Reformatory.


Then an interesting notation caught Connolly’s eye. He called for the reports on the A&P stickups and found that the first of the series had taken place on November 25th, 1929 .


Checking back on Krajewski’s record, the Night Chief learned that the suspect had been released from the reformatory just a short while before that date.


Quickly the word went out: “Pick up Walter Krajewski. He’s wanted for questioning about the murder of Patrolman Carl Wunderlich.”

Armed with pictures of the suspect, members of the homicide squad scoured the city, but to no avail. After prying around hi old hangouts, they got hold of an address. They went there only to learn that Krajewski had moved out a short time before without leaving a forwarding address.


The Headquarters men were frankly stumped about where to look next. It seemed to them that if their suspect were to be found, he would have to be caught on the fly.


That was the status of the case when I reported for my usual trick of duty with the auto-squad on the chilly night of March 22nd. It was a Saturday and Saturdays more than any other nights meant trouble for our squad. That was the night when merchants’ cash registers, as well as the motion picture houses, were full, and the two circumstances worked hand in hand for the benefit of the gunmen.


The curbs of every block in the downtown theater district were lined solid with parked cars, and in the vicinity of every neighborhood movie house were scores more.


It was a simple matter for bandits to find a car that had been parked with the ignition key in it, or to pick the lock or to wire around the ignition. If they grabbed a car soon after it had been parked in the theater district, they could be pretty sure of having two and a half to three and a half hours-until the show was over-to use the machine for their own purposes before it was reported stolen.


Meanwhile, the robbery reports would trickle in. If a witness managed to catch a glimpse of the auto license, invariably it belonged to a stolen car, which would be found abandoned soon afterward.


Lieutenant Britt and the rest of our squad had been keeping a close watch on the reports of recovered autos, to see what they could tell us. The way we figured it, a holdup man or a pair of them would abandon a car within a half-mile of their homes, so they wouldn’t have far to walk. When our checkup of the records showed that the overwhelming number of stolen cars were recovered within a one-mile radius on the East Side , we figured that most of the gunmen lived in that area.


The Lieutenant’s assignments were mad with that evidence in mind. On that March night, six cars filled with auto squad members were sent out roving on the East Side .


We wore plainclothes and our cars carried no police signs. Only the siren, if we were obliged to use it, revealed us as policemen.


A few flakes of snow fell as we drove about leisurely, our eyes fixed on the license plates of cars that approached or passed ours, ready to check a number against the list of stolen cars that dangled from our dashboard. Whenever we were in the vicinity of a precinct station, one of us stopped “hot” cars to add to our list and checked with Headquarters.


That night we had a big old touring car with side curtains. I was at the wheel and our squad leader, Detective Louis M. Klein, rode at my right. “Keep your guns handy, boys” he reminded us more than once. “Remember one of these guys may be the Wunderlich killer.

Ordinarily Detectives Fred Rambuss and Guy C. Dewey would have been with us, but because of absences of other squad members due to illness and days off that pair was assigned to another car. In their stead Detectives John W. Crotty and 

John Hamrahan were occupying the rear seat of our big Packard.


Crotty, whom we had nicknamed “Two-gun,” carried his usual arsenal of two service revolvers. Hanrahan had a shotgun ready for instant service. Klein and I each had a Police Positive in shoulder holsters.


In the course of our prowling, we stopped at the twelfth precinct station on Genesee Street to check in.


Klein emerged from the station and reached for the stolen car list. He added a license number and explained, for our benefit, that it was a Chevrolet touring car reported at 10:57 pm as stolen from Broadway and Ellicott Street in the theater district. The owner was William Kunz of 337 Germain Street

We resumed our cruising. After traversing several streets in the heart of Buffalo ’s Polish-American center, we swung out Walden Avenue for a few blocks. As we neared the trolley barns, a touring car with a winter top approached us, climbing the grade from a railroad underpass. By the beam of our headlights I caught the last four numbers of its license.


“Get the first numbers of that Chevy.” I flung over my shoulder at the detectives in the back seat. “It’s a hot car.” I repeated the numbers I had caught to Klein and almost simultaneously Crotty gave him the first numbers. “Yes, that’s the last one on our list,” Klein confirmed. “We’d better give him a looking over.”


Already I was swinging the big Packard into the track area in front of the trolley barns for a quick turn around.


Apparently the driver of the stolen car became apprehensive, for he quickly put on speed and swung sharply left into Lathrop Street , which we had passed only a moment before.


Headed about, I shoved my foot on the accelerator and we thundered in pursuit. The car swayed dizzily as we swerved into Lathrop Street and saw the Chevrolet already half a block away.


Once under way on a straight stretch, the Packard was swift. Slowly we began to close the gap. But busy Sycamore Street was the first intersecting thoroughfare and we were forced to unleash the siren to warn other traffic away as we hurtled at more than fifty miles an hour across the intersection.


Our hopes for a quick and quiet pickup were destroyed as thoroughly as our screaming siren shattered the peace of the neighborhood.


Halfway down the next block the Chevy appeared to slow up as it swerved toward the curb. Evidently the driver thought to leap from the stolen machine and dash away on foot, but we were gaining too rapidly.


Changing his mind, the fugitive pressed on the pedal and the light car leaped ahead. He hardly cut his speed as he approached crowded Broadway, yanked the wheel into a right turn and a short block farther turned right again, doubling back on us.


Close behind as we neared Broadway, we soon lost our advantage. The big gain we made on the straightaway was lost on turns and in traffic, where the smaller car could be maneuvered more readily.


Picking up speed again, we zigzagged in pursuit, turned west into Sycamore Street and sped on. We had nearly closed the gap again as we approached Mills Street with siren shrieking.


The fugitive driver, already aware that he had an advantage on every turn, whirled toward the intersection at full tilt, made a quick right angle and fled northward. Our heavy car screamed in anguish as I tried to duplicate his quick turn and an echoing yell came from the back seat. “Heh, you trying to kill us? Shrilled one of our detectives recovering his equilibrium after being hurtled against his companion.


Klein had his revolver out, ready for action, and mine hung loose in my holster, but we dared not shoot, for we didn’t know whom we were chasing. Our elusive quarry might be a high school boy who had swiped a car for a joyride, in which case wee would be severely criticized if we were to kill or wound him.


On the other hand, if he were a desperate gunman we would be just as severely criticized if he got away, and there was a very good chance that he might, if some unwary motorist were to get mixed up in the pursuit.


At the next cross street the Chevy swung right then sped for eighteen blocks on a meandering route that nearly duplicated the earlier stage of the chase. It brought us to Genesee Street , where we tore along between two lines of traffic.


The stolen car dipped into the railroad underpass and swerved right again into the next intersecting street with our curtained juggernaut less than 100 yards behind.


We were slowing down slightly to make the turn when a shot shattered the center of our windshield. A vacant lot on the corner had given the fugitive a chance to fire out of the right side of his car into ours without slackening speed.


“Anybody hurt? I yelled at Crotty and Hanrahan in the back. “No, it missed us” they returned. It was a miracle none of us was hit for as we determined later the bullet had passed directly between Klein and me and had continued through the back curtain.


“Okay, let him have it,” Klein gritted. “He asked for it.”


Another shot splattered against our radiator. Klein pushed his revolver through the opening of the side curtain and fired.


We had no doubt now of the kind of customer with whom we were dealing, but we still weren’t certain that the driver was alone in the Chevrolet. We only knew that at any cost, we must overhaul him, forcing him to the curb if possible. He must not get away.


A spray of glass showered us as another shot struck our windshield. Klein pulled out a big piece of loose glass and Hanrahan, standing up in the rear, leveled his shotgun through the opening and fired a blast. Crotty’s and Klein’s Police Positives spoke sharply.


It was impossible to know what mark their shots had found for the Packard was swaying down straightaways and careening around corners, flinging my passengers from side to side and upsetting their aim.


No longer were we losing so much distance on the turns. I was driving out in the center of the streets, ready for a turn either way and taking them with hardly a letup in speed barely missing the far curb on each one.


The fugitive resumed his grim game of twisting, turning, ducking in and out of traffic, in a desperate effort to shake off our relentless pursuit.


Every few minutes we would catch a flash in the car ahead and a “ping” would resound on our machine. My companions would fire an answering salvo whenever it was safe. He didn’t care whom he killed, but we had to be cautious so we wouldn’t hit an innocent bystander.


Through a maze of streets the chase led again to Sycamore Street , a main East-West artery.



A woman screamed and fled from the street to the sanctuary of the sidewalk as the two machines took the turn on two wheels.


A revolver spoke and out of the tail of my eye I saw a man duck into the protection of a doorway. A quick turn and we wheeled north, around the block and back toward sycamore.


Into that busy thoroughfare we plunged, to come as close to sudden death as any of us has ever known.


Sycamore is one of the liveliest streets on the East side and its intersection with Fillmore Avenue is near the center of the section’s business district, which is jammed with shoppers and merrymakers on a Saturday night.


As we approached Fillmore Avenue , the signal light turned red but the Chevy plunged ahead, getting the jump on the cross-traffic.


Even so a car quick on the pickup sprang from the waiting line of cross-traffic and whirled across the intersection barely missing the rear of the stolen machine.


Tearing along close behind at sixty to seventy miles an hour, with siren screaming, we couldn’t have stopped if we had wanted to. It appeared certain that we would plow into the car that was cutting across our bow.


I swung the wheel hard to the left; the Packard shivered in every brace and beam. It almost seemed to me that I could smell hot metal as the other car slithered past. I still am not sure whether we scraped it, but I never want to come closer.

Past the intersection, we quickly gathered speed again. My companions in the back seat were silent, trying to keep right side up in the thundering chariot as they took aim between the ears of Klein and me in front and fired at the elusive target ahead.


Avoiding the rough cobblestones of Sycamore Street , both autos swung into the trolley tracks. We were by then only two car lengths behind.


My fellow detectives had ceased firing. “They must have emptied their guns.” I thought, “and they can’t reload with the car swaying like this.”

Out of my shoulder holster I snatched my own revolver. Smashing out a piece of glass, a remaining fragment of the Packard’s windshield, with the butt, I rested the gun barrel on the metal frame and fired-one, two, three, four shots.


The Chevy continued straight ahead.


I decided I must save one shot for our protection when we overhauled our quarry. “I’ve got to make this next one good,” I resolved. I took careful aim and fired.


The Chevy continued on its course. “Hang on, I’m going to belt him!” I yelled at my companions, bringing the Packard’s speed down to the Chevy’s so we would escape serious injury in the collision.


We had just passed Walnut Street when I pressed a bit more on the accelerator and our heavy machine plowed into the light car ahead. It jumped out of the car tracks and veered to the right. For half a block it edged toward the side of the street, hurdled the curb, plunged straight into a fire hydrant and an adjoining power pole. The pole snapped near its base. The Chevy came to a halt-after a five-and-three-quarter-mile chase.


A sudden swerve to the left and a quick cutback, as a car approached from the opposite direction and the Packard was brought under control. A geyser of water gushed from the smashed hydrant as I pulled up ahead of the battered car that we had pursued for sixty-nine city blocks.


We pile out. With revolver leveled and only one shot remaining in it, I approached the stolen machine.


Then I returned my pistol to its holster. Before me, lying with his head hanging out of the open door on the driver’s side and his body slumped behind the wheel was the gunman. He must have been dead before our car rammed his.


Klein, Crotty, and Hanrahan lifted him out and carried him across the street, where they laid him on the snow-covered ground.


I waded through the freezing water, fishing for his weapon. After a few minutes I found it-a nearly new Colt .38. Opening the gunman’s coat, we found he was wearing a new shoulder holster and he had a box of cartridges in a pocket.


Meanwhile, Police Headquarters had been deluged with reports of a gun battle on the East Side . It was only a few minutes before 

Commissioner Roche and Night Chief Connolly arrived with a squad of Headquarters men.


Connolly glanced at the body on the ground, then fished in his pocket brought out a picture and made comparisons. “This is Walter Krajewski-the fellow who killed Carl Wunderlich,” the Night Chief declared. “And we’re just lucky he didn’t kill us, too,” I commented.


An hour later Connolly’s identification was proved correct. Summoned from their beds, Acting Manager Braun of the A&P store and Kelly, the man who saw Wunderlich’s slayer flee from the store, picked our victim’s body from five others in the morgue.


At Braun’s request, an attendant flipped back the dead man’s lip. There was the greenish-hued tooth that Braun said was so prominent when the A&P bandit, his lip writhing, snarled his commands at the chain store manager nearly seven weeks before.


Fingerprints proved that the dead man was Krajewski.


The Medical Examiner found a bullet hole in Krajewski’s head, evidently made by the last shot I had fired.


A short while later, the four of us who participated in the pursuit and killing of Patrolman Wunderlich’s slayer received checks for $250 each, equal shares of the reward posted by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.


Detective Henry Wunderlich, who was detailed to another auto squad patrol that night, was well satisfied with the outcome of the case.


“I didn’t want any part of the reward,” he told me. “I just wanted to get the rat who killed my brother. I’m glad you nailed him.”


The back of the stolen car had been peppered with twenty-nine shots. Our own big vehicle was ready for the junk heap, its bullet-riddled radiator dry and the motor ruined. But it had served well in bringing to an end the sordid career of a young man who had graduated from petty crime to banditry and thought he could get away with murder.




Lieutenant George F. Tourjie former Sergeant of Marines was presented with the William J. Conners gold medal on December 18th, 1980 for the most meritorious act performed by a Buffalo police officer during the year. He was elected by the three Buffalo police inspectors, Thomas J. Gilligan, James Hyland and John S. Marnon, comprising the award committee, to receive the medal for his work on the case about which he tells in the foregoing article.


As Fred M. McLennan, managing editor of the Courier-Express, pinned the medal on Tourjie’s breast, he said:


“The smashing blows struck against murderous thieves last March brought to an abrupt end a gangster outbreak that boded ill for the peace and good name of the city. We are all inclined to be hero worshippers. We are apt, however, to turn back the pages of history and pay homage to heroes whose deeds are no more meritorious than those that occur before our eyes. In the warfare against gangsters the members of the Buffalo police force have demonstrated that they are of the right caliber to form that thin blue line that stands between the law-abiding citizen and the felon. George F. Tourjie, recipient of the medal this year is an outstanding example of the brave, efficient police officer.


Detectives John Hanrahan and John W. Crotty were awarded departmental medals for meritorious service in connection with the same case.


Note Crime Scene Photo Not Authentic






















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