End of Watch: April 12, 1929

Michael (“Smiling Mickey”) Donnelly, 33-year-old policeman of the 7th and Carpenter Street station, was killed in a pistol battle with one of two young robbers, near 4th and Carpenter Street.

As the killer sought to escape by scaling the side of a house, a policeman’s bullet grazed his brow, and he fell, stunned, to the ground, unable to reach for his revolver which lay three feet away. The youth, Thomas J. Caulfield, nineteen, Ringgold Street, near 24th Street, was taken to the Pennsylvanian Hospital, treated for a slight wound and then charged with murder.

Detectives Donahue and Pearson, of the 7th and Carpenter Street station, arrested William Fairman, fifteen-year-old nephew of Caulfield at his home on Howard Street, near Catharine. He admitted to police he was with Caulfield, but denied firing a shot.  He, too, was charged with murder and robbery.

Donnelly’s bride of eleven months collapsed when she was told of her husband’s death. Donnelly was making his rounds on 3rd street above Carpenter, fifteen minutes before he would be off duty. He heard a woman’s scream, then shots.  The scream came from Max Sobel’s cigar store, northeast corner of 4th and Carpenter Streets. Officer Donnelly went on the run, reaching the scene; Officer William Cahill and Officer Charles Freil joined him. They saw two youths, flourishing pistols, running. They turned on to Orianna Street. Caulfield turned into Hall Street, a blind alley which leads to the rear of houses on the east side of 4th Street and Fairman escaped in another direction. In the alley Donnelly came to his death, as he tried to vault a fence leading to the rear yard of 941 S. 4th Street, into which Caulfield had fled, firing as he retreated. Donnelly was in the lead, the other police trailing, as the fugitive leaped over the fence. Raising his arm over the fence, Donnelly fired once then he raised his body halfway over. Taking aim, the robber fired, and Donnelly fell back, a bullet in the groin, an artery severed.

“He got me.” he gasped and then unconscious. Twenty minutes later he died in the Mt. Sinai Hospital. Cahill, of the 12th and Pine Street station, from which Donnelly was transferred a year ago, dragged his wounded comrade into Orianna Street, leaving Friel to keep the robber cornered until reinforcements, which had been summoned by Sobel, arrived.

As he tried to scale the wall the young robber made a target for the police in the blind alley, and somebody’s bullet cut a furrow across his forehead. Stunned, he released his clutch on the wall and fell in a heap, his pistol after him.  Caulfield first told police he was John O’Keefe but refused to say then who his companion was.  Caulfield was arrested in connection with a holdup four month ago but freed because of lack of evidence.  He was held at the hospital under police guard all-night and taken to the station house for the hearing then. The slayer-robber, his head swathed in bandages and his clothing torn, stood languidly through the hearing and made no sign of emotion when Magistrate DeNero held him without bail on a charge of murder and robbery for a further hearing.

Donnelly served in the Navy during the war.  He lived with his wife, Margaret, twenty-three, at the 67th street address.