KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY FROM GUNSHOT
Appointed: December 15, 1892
End of Watch: January 9, 1918
George L. Williams, fifty-four, a City Hall detective and a member of the old Cuban Giants baseball team, was shot and killed in a battle with five gunmen at 16th and South Street this afternoon. He was the city’s only colored detective. Also, the first Black officer killed in the line of duty.
Williams got into the fight while looking for an alleged murdered. He saw the gunmen shoot another man, as the man came out of a saloon at 16th and South Street. Williams ran toward the saloon caught one of the gunmen and was about to turn him over to a policeman so he could pursue the others when they opened fire on him. Williams fired one shot but it went wild. The other black males kept on firing and four shots hit the detective. He died a few minutes later.
Two of the alleged slayers were captured together with six black males and a white man who were held as material witnesses. The wounded male was Perry Rhoades of South Camack Street. The men held on the charge of Detective Williams murder were Samuel Coles, of Ogden street near 49th and Malcolm Tryce of Waverley street near 16th, Sidney Ellis also of 16th and Waverley street, Elmer Cox, of South Bancroft street, William Tubbs 17th and Lombard street, Daniel Canwell, 16th and Lombard street and Abraham Palmick white, Media.
Frank Russell, 16th and Rodman Street was arrested later this afternoon as another eyewitness to the shooting. He said he saw Coles fire several shots at Williams. The police said Russell also had a revolver and that he was pointing it at people in Rodman Street but that he had nothing to do with William’s death. He is also accused of having a revolver in his possession.
Williams was survived by a widow and five children. He lived at 2231 N. 21 Street. His murder was directly traceable, to disorder which Coles, Tryce, Ellis and the two black males who escaped in the saloon at 16th and South Street. The five men were in the saloon and quarreled with Patrick Dillon a bartender. The one of the black males hit Dillon with a blackjack and that Dillon took it away and ejected all the men. One of the males lost his hat in the saloon. They went back and demanded the bat, Thomas P. McGowan the proprietor and another bartender James Carrigan were there. Carrigan is alleged to have taken a baseball bat and told the males to get out. Dillon then came in, one of the males alleged to have pointed a revolver at Dillon and snapped the trigger five times. McGowan said that at each click, a cartridge fell to the floor, as the revolver was evidently too big for the cartridge.
The men then backed out of the saloon. Rhoades was going in and the gunmen mistook him for a black policeman. “Beat it,” he said and fired at Rhoades. A bullet hit him in the arm. He was taken to the Pennsylvania Hospital.
Williams was standing at 16th and Rodman Street at the time waiting for a murder suspect known as Smoke Johnson to return to his home. Williams ran to ward South Street and caught Ellis. He was holding Ellis when Eillis companions opened fire.
Captain Tate said Williams was one of the most courageous and efficient men in his bureau. It was just like him to run into danger,” said Tate I never saw a man with more nerve. He had no fear. I certainly feel his death.” Former Judge Beithier, then Director of Public Safety under Mayor Stuart, appointed Williams to the force in 1892. He was attached to the Nineteenth District, and then located at 8th and Lombard Street.
He held down a beat in that district which covers the largest negro settlement in the city, in efficient fashion until 1905, when he resigned. He turned in his badge November 4th that year and remained in private life until December 15, 1906.
He had moved to the Fifteenth Ward following his resignation and attracted the attention of Mayor Reyburn who took a great fancy to him. The Mayor had Williams reappointed and he was made a substituted policeman of the Ninth District then at 23rd and Brown street September 30, 1909, he was made a detective and attached to the bureau in City Hall. Williams toured the country with the first baseball team to bear the name Cuban Giants. It was made up of negroes and one or two Cubans and played a fast game. Williams was a rattling good catcher his natural position but he could also pitch hold down third base and play the outfield. He was a heavy hitter and a clever base runner.