Friday, June 17, 2011

Eagle Scout project creates memorial to lawmen lost in Union Station Massacre 78 years ago

Seventy-eight years ago today, two Kansas City Police officers, an FBI agent and the chief of an Oklahoma police department were killed in a hail of gunfire in the Union Station Massacre. We took the time to honor them today thanks to the work of an Eagle Scout.

On June 17, 1933, police were transporting federal prisoner Frank Nash from Oklahoma to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., when several of his mobster friends (Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Vernon Miller and Adam Richetti) attempted to free him as he got off the train at Downtown's Union Station. KCPD Detectives William Grooms and Frank Hermanson, FBI Agent Raymond Caffrey and McAlester, Okla., Police Chief Otto Reed died as the mobsters sprayed them with bullets. FBI Agent F. Joseph Lackey was injured but survived. Prisoner Frank Nash ended up dying in the massacre, as well. Another little-known victim, KCPD Officer Grant Schroder, was killed the following year by an officer who came upon the carnage of the Union Station Massacre, became mentally unstable with survivor's guilt and killed Officer Schroder. The FBI has a great description of Union Station Massacre on its site, including what led up to it and how the perpetrators were captured.

In the rain this morning, at the Trail of Heroes on the campus of the Kansas City Regional Police Academy and Shoal Creek Patrol Division, we dedicated a monument in honor of the lawmen who were killed in this horrid event. The monument was the Eagle Scout project of J.J. Duer of Boy Scout Troup 180, son of KCPD Officer Jeff Duer. They have been working on it for months, and it's breath-taking. It permanently will memorialize those who lost their lives in this event that changed law enforcement forever. As an Eagle Scout myself, I couldn't be more proud and humbled.

Today's dedication featured a couple special guests. One was Patrick Caffrey, grandson of FBI Agent Raymond Caffrey, who was killed in the Massacre. Caffrey's father was just six years old when he lost his dad in the barrage of bullets. FBI Agent Mike Oiler also joined us today. Another guest was actually present at the Massacre in 1933, but it's not a person. It's a Thompson sub-machine gun (Tommy gun) owned and used by KCPD officers during the Union Station Massacre. We still have three of those Tommy guns used by police that day in storage.

Check out some pictures from today's dedication below, and be sure to check out this amazing new monument, located about 500 feet from the trailhead on the Trail of Heroes.

Soon-to-be Eagle Scout J.J. Duer and his dad, Officer Jeff Duer

The Tommy gun Kansas City Police used at the Union Station Massacre, presented by KCPD Firearms Instructor Dave Andress.

FBI Special Agent Mike Oiler accepting a copy of a letter former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to surviving FBI Agent F. Joseph Lackey three days after the Union Station Massacre.

Unveiling the memorial.

Many local businesses and individuals donated their time and supplies to assist with the memorial's creation.

J.J. Duer with Patrick Caffrey, grandson of Raymond Caffrey, the FBI agent killed in the Union Station Massacre.

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