Two Friends/ One Women/Two Murdered Cops/ A Fiancé/ A Widow
today at 3:52 pm
There are some things in life that are sometimes better not to talk about. Why bring others into a world that I’m sure would be difficult at best to understand. A perfect example of what I’m trying to say can be applied to military veterans who have engaged in the horrors of war who often find it difficult to even think back on those experiences let alone talk about them. Cicero the great Roman orator once said”In times of war the law falls silent” so to someone who has never experienced war it’s impossible to try to explain it. As hard as it is for some people to grasp, cops are at war, minus the jungles and battlefields. Smiling and laughing one minute with routine 95% of the time, and then suddenly jumping to sheer terror at the turn of a corner. Patrol Officer Thomas Kelly (Tommy) 22 years old, a Marine veteran who survived the jungles and the horrors of war in Viet Nam, shook off those memories and signed on to be a Chicago cop. We were buddies and aside from the Marine Corps, we also had the Chicago Police Department in common.
On 3 March 1970 while assigned to area #1 Task Force, Officer Tommy Kelly by then a 4-year Chicago Police veteran was on routine patrol with his partner (here’s routine again) when they spotted a vehicle rolling suspiciously through the neighborhood located at 360 E. 44th, a recent area of several gang shootings. When they pulled over the vehicle Tommy went to the drivers’ side to question the driver as his partner stood on the passenger side. Almost immediately after requesting the driver’s license a passenger in the vehicle opened fire striking Officer Kelly several times. Immediately another shooter fired 2 more shots at Tommy’s partner wounding him. When he tried to continue shooting his gun jammed and the vehicle fled the scene. Several hours later they were captured and arrested. Officer Kelly was pronounced dead at the hospital and his partner survived his wounds.
It was to be an exciting week for Tommy because in just a few days he was getting married to his Fiance JoAnn. In fact, that morning he had stopped to pick up his tuxedo and placed it in the trunk of his patrol vehicle. The dread and reality that we both had talked about on several occasions as Marines, about life being a fragile bargain, resendable at any time, became a sudden reality. JoAnn, of course, took the news of his murder as well as could be expected. Imagine living with those horrific memories just days from a lifetime of dreams starting a family. After a few years, Jo-Ann began seeing Tommy’s friend and Chicago Cop Pat Crowley. Pat was also a friend of mine and he was working on my Tactical Team in the Gresham District. I was his Sergeant at that time. I was happy to see Jo-Ann smile once again and was elated with the news that they decided on marriage.
Things went smoothly for a few years and of course Pat was one of the most outstanding streets cops the City had. He turned down promotions to Detective on several occasions to stay on the streets with us on the South Side. Then on September 13, 1976, at the beginning of our tour of duty, he asked me if he could take 4 hours off that night to attend an IRISH Social Club in which he was an officer. He handed me a slip called a “time due slip” to account for hours to be deducted from his time accumulated attending court and working overtime. Because of this, I assigned him with 2 other officers so that when he left it would not break up the patrol. Just after roll call, he told me he was keeping a suspected narcotics house under surveillance and that he would be checking it soon after he left the station. About an hour later after attempting to arrest a heroin dealer, Pat was shot in the head after a gun battle. His two partners escaped injury and Pat was pronounced dead at the hospital.
My immediate Boss, Commander Joe Healy and I probably were faced with one of the most difficult assignments of our lives. We knew Jo-Ann’s past worst nightmare with her fiance Tommy Kelly’s violent murder on the street but we felt we had to make the notification ourselves. Jo-Ann knew us and rather than a stranger we went to try and do the best we could. As soon as we reached the house we really didn’t have to say a word, Jo-Ann knew immediately her worst nightmare had become a reality AGAIN. The depiction below is a person who is grieving and empty inside.
A Fiance and now a Husband murdered while working to Serve and Protect Chicago’s streets. The Wake and the Funeral, of course, were a blur and I just couldn’t help but admire Jo-Ann for even being able to get thru all the thousands and thousands of people and press coverage that accompanies a Cops line of duty death. Nobody ever told the story of Jo-Ann Crowley and the death of her beloved Cops. I’m guessing she had the same feelings that I talked about earlier, remembering and talking about that kind of horror most likely hurt so much she chose to lock it away. To this day I’m not sure what the rest of life was like for her, but the thing is, for sure it was her choice and we respected it. God bless you, JoAnn Crowley. Thousands of us remember Tommy and Pat and yourself. Hope all is well.