Perp Kills Two NYPD Cops in Separate Incidents


Cases linked years later

On April 21, 1934, Detective 1st Grade John Garvey and his partner Detective Francis Gleason were following two suspected perps on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The pair were assigned to the 3rd Detective Division and thought that they might have a robbery crew on their hands.

The pair shadowed the two likely hoods on foot for about 15 minutes.  When the two lingered on the corner of West 75th Street and Broadway, the Detectives decided to stop the pair.  (It wouldn’t be considered a Terry stop until the 1968 Terry v Ohio case, but you get the idea)

As the Detectives approached, one perp turned and stated “Don’t draw your guns. If you do, we will let you have it”.  Before the Detectives could draw their weapons, the other perp produced a pistol and began firing. Detective Garvey was fatally shot, and Detective Gleason was struck in the chest and seriously injured.  The two unidentified perps fled the scene.

A civilian, James Isler of Brooklyn, saw the shooting and ran to help the two downed cops.  He flagged down a passing car and rushed the seriously injured Detective Gleason to the hospital, getting him the immediate treatment that saved his life.  There was no helping the dying Garvey. 

Months passed with no break in the case of the murder of Detective Garvey.  On November 26, 1934, there was a wild shootout at 48 Garden Street in Brooklyn between cops and perps from an organized robbery crew.  Patrolman John Monahan was shot twice in the stomach by a perp who fled the scene.  Monahan died at St. Catherine’s hospital ten days later. 

The perp was identified as Joseph Sonsky and the NYPD captured him two weeks later.  Sonsky may have been affiliated with the notorious Tri-State Gang of Tony Cugino.  That crew was responsible for numerous murders including of several police officers across the northeast.  Sonsky was convicted of Monahan’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. 

Several years later the NYPD received a confession on the murder of Detective Garvey.  A robbery perp named Norman Zapp attempted to escape custody while being transported to New York City for a robbery arrest.  He was shot in the process and mortally wounded. He made a dying declaration that he and Joseph Sonsky had killed Detective Garvey.  They had been on their way to do a contract hit on a mobster named Hymie Halperin who lived on West 74th Street, when they encountered the two cops. 

Sonsky was put on trial and convicted of the murder of Detective Garvey on April 16th, 1942, and sentenced to death.   He was executed at Sing Sing prison later that year. 

Christopher Flanagan


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