Chicago Cop Dies in Bombing


On November 9, 1925, at 8:35 p.m., Chicago Police Officer Frederick Schmitz had just returned home after working his tour of duty. He lived with his wife and children at his home located at 5233 West Van Buren Street. While his three children played on the first floor, he went downstairs to work on the building’s furnace. Someone had planted six or seven sticks of dynamite in the front basement window. Shortly after he went downstairs the dynamite detonated. The children, startled by the explosion, called down to their father but received no response. The fire department was called and found Officer Schmitz’s body in the basement. He had been killed by the blast.

It was suspected that the bomb was intended for Captain Ira McDowell, Officer Schmitz next door neighbor. McDowell was known as a strict enforcer of the law and had driven many of the gamblers and bootleggers from the district he commanded. The bomber(s) were never identified and a motive was never confirmed. Also of note, the City of Chicago never paid Schmitz’s family his death benefit, claiming that the incident didn’t happen on duty and a motive could not be proven. The incident did show the lawlessness of the era, particularly in Chicago. The dynamic of good cops, bad cops, and a lot of money being thrown around was ripping the city apart in the Prohibition Era.


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