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Richard Cronin

Appointed March 10, 1887
End of Tour Tuesday, January 3, 1905

Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota
[Minnesota Death Certificate No. 1905-44-608]

Fatally assaulted while conducting an arrest.


Photo of Richard Cronin

Shortly before 0100 hours (1:00 a.m.) on Tuesday, January 3, 1905, Patrolman Richard Cronin1, Badge No. 15 and 61, suffered a fatal heart attack after being assaulted during an arrest at 610 E. Reaney Avenue in the City of Saint Paul. The police had been called to the home several times the past night on account of his abusive actions. They were called the last time at about 2400 hours (12:00 a.m.) and the subject arrested.

Cronin was assigned to the Margaret Street Substation as night jailer and conductor of the patrol wagon, and had been sent to the E. Reaney Avenue address to meet up with and assist two other patrolmen, Frank O. Noreen2 and Anthony Schulte3, in transporting a domestic abuse suspect to the “lockup”. As the two officers attempted to remove Charles Olson, 42, from his home he violently resisted, continuing the “fierce tussle” once outside.

When Patrolman Cronin arrived with the patrol wagon shortly after midnight, the arrested party was still resisting and Cronin jumped in to assist, getting kicked in the stomach for his efforts. Gaining control, the officers placed Olson in the patrol wagon. Cronin did not immediately feel the effects of the injuries he received and remained seated on the way to the lock up. He did not succumb until within a few blocks of the substation, when he slumped forward, his helmet dropping from his head. The unconscious Cronin was caught by Patrolman Schulte, and expired in the arms of his brother officers while being carried from the patrol wagon into the station house.

At the time, Coroner A.W. Miller ruled that the death was of natural causes resulting from heart disease and overexertion. Olson was fined $50 for “Disorderly Conduct” and released. Given the sequence of events leading up to the officer’s incapacitation and sudden death, it was determined by Ramsey County Medical Examiner, Michael B. McGee, during a re-evaluation of the facts in February of 2007, that Patrolman Cronin’s death occurred in the line of duty and was directly related to the physical assault received during the course of attempting to arrest Charles Olson. He further stated that applying the facts of the case to the criteria currently used in the medical examiner’s office, this case would have been ruled a homicide and that Olson would have been charged accordingly.

Although police personnel records do not include his date of birth, other records indicate that Richard Cronin was born in about 1852, raised in Ireland, and came to Saint Paul in 1880. Fifty-two year old Cronin had been with the Police Department since March 10, 1887 (seventeen years), and although he worked most of his years out of the Central Station, had just recently been assigned to the “light duty” jailer position at the Margaret Street Substation due to health issues. He was survived by his wife, Johanna, and three children, William, Caterina and Mary. Patrolman Cronin’s funeral was held on Thursday, January 5, 1905, at Saint Vincent’s Catholic Church, and he is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Saint Paul. Cronin’s wife was a cousin of Chief of Police John J. O’Connor4.

1 Richard Cronin was appointed Patrolman March 10, 1887; was assigned night Jailer (acting) and Patrol Wagon Conductor at the Margaret Street Substation in about 1903; and was fatally assaulted while conducting an arrest Tuesday, January 3, 1905. Please note that although the initial incident may have started on January 2nd, the assault on Patrolman Cronin took place after the midnight hour.

2 Frank O. Noreen appointed Patrolman July 3, 1899; resigned March 10, 1906. Please note that in that time period there was at least one removal and reinstatement.

3 Anthony Schulte appointed Patrolman August 20, 1900; retired January 16, 1931.

4 John J. O’Connor was appointed Detective March 9, 1881; was promoted to Chief of Detectives March 9, 1885; resigned June 7, 1892; was reappointed Chief of Detectives June 5, 1894; resigned June 2, 1896; was appointed Chief of Police June 9, 1900; resigned February 29, 1912; was reappointed Chief of Police June 2, 1914; resigned June 1920; and died July 3, 1924 in California.