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Lawrence Francis Tierney

Appointed June 29, 1925
End of Tour Wednesday, November 14, 1934

Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota
[Minnesota Death Certificate No. 1934-MN-026265]

Fatally injured by gunfire while pursuing a robbery suspect on foot.


Photo of Lawrence Tierney

At 2018 hours (8:18 p.m.) Wednesday, November 14, 1934, Patrolman Lawrence Francis Tierney1, Badge No. 240, and Detective Peter D. Barrett2, Badge No. 221, were looking for a robbery suspect who had just robbed Mr. and Mrs. Carl Nippers of $2 in the back of their home at 706 Lincoln Avenue in the City of Saint Paul.

At 2120 hours (9:20 p.m.) the two officers located a man matching the description of the suspect walking on Avon Street between Summit and Portland Avenues. The officers told him to stop, but instead, the suspect shot at the officers and fled. The officers returned fire and a running gun fight ensued, in which Officer Tierney was hit and killed at the rear of 849 Grand Avenue.

Although Tierney was killed at about 2130 hours (9:30 p.m.) he was separated from his fellow patrolmen at the time and was not missed until an hour-and-a-half later, when a search was started for him and his body discovered at 2320 hours (11:20 p.m.). The slug from the bandit’s gun struck him in the chest, killing him almost instantly.

As the man continued to flee he was shot and wounded in the leg by other officers, but was still able to elude capture. The youthful bandit, Russell O’Laughlin, was apprehended later in his home at 261 N. Oxford Street after his father called the police and stated that his son had confessed the shooting to him.

Thirty-seven hours after killing Tierney, the suspect was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The gun used, a .38-caliber double action Colt revolver, had been stolen from the home of Detective George A. Boerner3 three months earlier.

Born on August 27, 1899, and raised in Saint Paul, thirty-four year old Lawrence Francis Tierney had been with the Bureau of Police since June 29, 1925 (nine years), and although currently assigned to a squad car had spent several years as a motorcycle patrolman. His brother, Charles J. Tierney4, went on to become the Chief of Police in Saint Paul and his other brother, John5, was a police lieutenant before becoming the head of the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Patrolman Tierney’s funeral was held on Monday, November 19, 1934, at Saint Mark’s Catholic Church, and he is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

1 Lawrence Francis Tierney was appointed Motorcycle Patrolman June 29, 1925; was assigned to Squad Duty April 2, 1930; and was fatally injured by gunfire while pursuing a robbery suspect on foot Wednesday, November 14, 1934.

2 Peter D. Barrett was appointed Patrolman April 1, 1924; was assigned to Plainclothes Duty May 15, 1927; was promoted to Detective (provisional) March 10, 1932; was reinstated to Patrolman August 1, 1932; and died January 22, 1945.

3 George A. Boerner was appointed Mounted Patrolman April 20, 1903; was reduced to Foot Patrolman October 16, 1914; was assigned to Plain Clothes Duty October 1, 1916; was promoted to Detective May 1, 1919; and died June 21, 1939.

4 Charles J Tierney was appointed Police Operator March 21, 1921; was promoted to Detective July 1, 1926; was promoted to Detective Lieutenant (provisional) May 6, 1931; was promoted to Detective Lieutenant (permanent) February 6, 1932; was promoted to Assistant Inspector of Detectives (provisional) June 16, 1932; was promoted to Inspector of Detectives (provisional) March 1, 1933; was promoted to Inspector of Detectives (permanent) May 12, 1933; took voluntary reduction to Assistant Inspector of Detectives July 25, 1935; was promoted to Inspector of Detectives June 4, 1936; was promoted to Assistant Chief November 7, 1936; was appointed Chief of Police October 1, 1943; and died in office May 30, 1952.

5 John J. Tierney was appointed Berillon Room Clerk April 1, 1916; took Military Leave October 8, 1917; returned to duty January 8, 1918; was promoted to Assistant Superintendent Bertillon Division August 8, 1918; was promoted to Superintendent Bureau of Identification April 11, 1922; was shot by Robert Fagan May 30, 1928; returned to duty January 8, 1929; took lateral Leave of Absence to become Superintendent, MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA); and retired April 1, 1955.