SOME INCIDENTS IN THE CAREER OF DONALD E. BLAKE

DON SERVED AT #14 IN UNIFORM AND TACT, S.O.D. TACT, #14 AS DETECTIVE, K-9 AS A SERGEANT, 15 YEARS AT ROBBERY SQUAD AS SERGEANT, AND LIEUTENANT AT THE  INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. DON AND ANOTHER OFFICER RECEIVED THE SILVER MEDAL FOR THEIR ACTIONS IN A LIQUOR STORE SHOOTOUT.

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 8, 1964, PAGE A1

GUNMEN WALK INTO D.C. POLICE TRAP, 3 SHOOT WAY OUT, FOURTH WOUNDED

LIQUOR STORE HOLDUP ATTEMPT

Four gunmen who tried to hold up Big D Liquors, 4173 Minnesota ave. n., last night, waled into a trap set by police. In the shooting that followed, one gunman was injured and captured and at least one of the three who escaped empty-handed is believed to be wounded.

Capt. Vernon H. Culpepper, of the 14th Precinct, said the store had been staked out since Dec. 1 in anticipation of a rash of pre-Christmas holdups.

While manager Leon Brezz, 65, of 3542 16th st.., Silver Spring, was behind the counter last night four men, one holding a shotgun said, “This is a holdup, open the cash register.” The fourth found the deliveryman, Clyde W. Boydston, 63, working in the walk-in cooler and ordered him to “stay put.”

The policemen, Pvts. Donald E. Blake, 24, and Joseph T. Kaclik, 25, were hiding in the back room, several steps from the cooler.

When Brezz was told to open the cash register, he dove to the floor as the policemen had told him to do. The officers came out, pistols drawn, and the bandits immediately began firing.

The police fired back and hit Reginald Earl Gatlin, 24, in the chest. The three others fled in a convertible after firing at least 11 shots, Captain Culpepper said.

The officers, neither of whom was injured, fired approximately ten shots, Culpepper added.

Gatlin, listed at 36 ½ Hanover pl. nw., was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where he was reported in critical condition. He was charged with assault with intent to commit robbery and assault with intent to kill a police officer.

Police broadcast a lookout for three Negroes, all in their mid-20s. The first, wearing a dark, three-quarter-length jacket and a hat with a stocking mask over his face, was armed with a pistol. The second, armed with a shotgun, was about 5 feet 9 and weighed 150. The third man, police said, was armed with a pistol and was wearing a brown waist-length jacket.      

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THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR DATED DECEMBER 8, 1964, PAGE

BANDIT SHOT IN POLICE DUEL WITH 4 AT LIQUOR STORE HERE

Two policemen staked out in a Northeast Washington Liquor store last night shot and wounded one of four armed men who tried to hold up the store.

Neither of the policemen was injured during the exchange of nearly two dozen shots with the bandits, three of whom escaped still armed but without loot.

Because of the expected outbreak of pre-Christmas holdups, District police are being concealed in such stores to deal with armed robbers, police officials said.

Last night’s holdup attempt was at the Big D Liquors, 4173 Minnesota Avenue NE, where Reginald E. Gatlin, 25, of the 1200 block of Eaton Road SE, was shot twice, once each by a pair of 14th Precinct policemen who had taken up posts in the rear of the store only 40 minutes before the incident. Gatlin was reported in critical condition today at D.C. General Hospital.

ONE BANDIT HAD SHOTGUN

The officers, Pvts. Joseph T. Kaclik and Donald E. Blake, shot it out with the three other bandits at close range as the trio fled from the store.

Lt. Henry S. Heflin and Sgt. Robert W. Klotz, 14th Precinct officials who planned and supervised the stakeout, gave this account:

Pvts. Kaclik and Blake went to the liquor store about 6:30 p.m. for their first night of stake-out duty. Within 40 minutes of the time they hid themselves in the rear, four armed men entered the establishment, three pointing revolvers and one carrying a shotgun.

The shotgun bandit pointed his weapon at Leon Berez, 55, the manager, and demanded that he open the cash register. Berez cautiously opened the register. Then quickly fell to the floor behind the counter as he had been instructed to do by police.

At that instant, one of the gunmen spotted a store employe, Clyde W. Boydston, 63, who was working in a walk-in freezer. While that gunman covered Boydston, another stood near the front door. The man with the shotgun started around the counter to see what had happened to the manager and the fourth bandit pushed open a door leading to the rear room. 

SHOOTING ERUPTS

The fourth gunman found himself face-to-face with Pvt. Kaclik, who had been watching everything from a peephole. Pvt. Kaclik, in full uniform with gun in hand, yelled, “police—Drop it,” to the holdup man, but the bandit turned his revolver toward the other uniformed officer.

The two policemen fired at the gunman, who fell in his tracks. The three other robbers in the front opened fire at the policemen., who took cover behind store furniture.

During the exchange of gunfire, the policemen fired at the bandits four times each. The holdup men returned more than a dozen shots, missing both officers by only inches. A single blast from the one bandit’s shotgun peppered a wall next to Pvt. Blake. Two bullet holes were later found in a file cabinet which shielded his partner.

!7 BULLET HOLES COUNTED 

Liquor bottles were shattered by flying bullets and one of the store’s fluorescent lights was shot out of its holders. Seventeen bullet holes were later found in the store’s fixtures and walls.

Gatlin, the wounded gunman, was admitted to the hospital with two bullet wounds, one bullet lodged in his back. He was charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill and one count of assault with intent to commit robbery.

(There was actually 18 bullet holes. The 18th was not found until 2-years later when a customer of Big D purchased a case of beer only to find a hole on one of the cans with something that rattled. He returned it to Big D. Inside of the can was a 38 caliber slug fired by one of the four culprits. They showed it to me, but I was too dumb to ask for it. That would have made a good keep sake. Don Blake)

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 9, 1964, PAGE A15

3 WHO FLED GUN BATTLE STILL AT LARGE

The three holdup men who escaped Monday night after a gun battle with police were still at large last night. The one gunman who didn’t escape the shoot-out att Big D Liquors, 4178 Minnesota ave. ne., was still in critical condition.

He is Reginald E. Gatlin, 24, of 36 ½ Hanover pl. nw., under treatment in D.C. General Hospital for a police bullet wound in the chest.

Capt. Vernon Culpepper, whose 14th Precinct policemen had the place staked out against the possibility of a robbery, said Gatlin’s condition is such that he cannot be questioned yet about the identification of his companions.

Insp. Lawrence Hartnett said that not even the police department, on any given night, knows how many potential targets of holdup men are staked out. Some of them are “planted” as a result of a tip that the store will be held up on a certain night. Others, he said, are staked out on police “hunches” that certain stores are “about due.”

Some of the stake-outs are arranged by Robbery Squad detectives at Headquarters, Hartnett said; others are arranged by commanders of the various precincts.

Pvts. Donald E. Blake, 24, and Joseph T. Kaclik, 25, were secreted in a rear room of Big D Liquors Monday night when the four bandits walked in. More than 20 shots were exchanged, but Gatlin was the only one known to have been hit.

(GATLIN WAS ARRESTED FOR HOLDING UP A OLD HICKORY RESTAURANT PRIOR TO THIS N 1962, BUT THE GRAND JURY FAILED TO INDICT HIM.  HE SURVIVED THE GUNSHOT WOUND MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE AND WAS ONE OF TWO ARRESTED IN 1970 FOR A HOLDUP/MURDER IN A CORRIDOR AT WALTER REED HOSPITAL. HE WAS RELEASED FROM PRISON IN JANUARY 2006)

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 20, 1965, PAGE B2

7 CHILDREN, ALL KIN, HELD AS BURGLARS

Seven brothers and sisters, led by a 17-year-old girl, have been charged in a series of housebreaking’s, Juvenile Squad detectives reported.

Even as they kept their ransacking activities in the same family, police said, they also confined them to the same home. Their victim was Roxie B. Hines, of 5027 Central ave. se.

Hine’s ordeal began on Oct. 19, police said, at which time he reported a tv set stolen. On the following day, his entire apartment was ransacked and the missing items ranged from food to dishes, a radio and some fixtures.

On the next day, Pvts. Michael D. McCoy and Donald E. Blake kept an eye on the Hines presmises, but no one showed up. In the ensuing days they never were cruising very far from the Hines home and three days ago the vigilance paid off.

They responded to a complaint that a housebreaking was in progress at the Hines home and they arrived in time to catch three of the children making off with a bicycle. Under questioning, the three implicated others of the brood, youngest of whom is nine.

All have been released to maternal custody pending Juvenile Court action, police said.

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 27, 1966, PAGE E27

HIGHEST AWARD GIVEN EX-FIRE FIGHTER WHO RESCUED FAMILY; 50 OTHERS CITED

The presentations, sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, featured congratulatory talks by District Commissioner Walter N. Tobriner and District Court Judge Oliver Gasch.

Silver Medals for Valor went to four policemen, Detective Augustine J. Anastasi, Lt. Samuel E. Wallace and Pvts. Donald E. Blake and Joseph T. Kaclik.

Private Donald E. Blake—Fourteenth PrecinctPrivate Joseph T. Kaclik—Fourteenth PrecinctOn December 7, 1964 Privates Donald E. Blake and Joseph T. Kaclik distinguished themselves for outstanding courage and devotion to duty when, disregarding the extreme personal risk involved, they stepped from behind a door in the rear of a liquor store at 4173 Minnesota Avenue N.E., where they had been “staked out”, and confronted four masked gunmen who were in the process of robbing the store. Instead of dropping their guns as ordered, the bandits all fired shots at the officers who returned their fire and brought down one of them in the exchange of shots, the other three reaching the front door and disappearing into the night. ******************************************************************************

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 23, 1966, PAGE A3

4 HELD IN BOTCHED BANK HOLDUP

ESCAPE CAR BALKS AND MANY NOTE LICENSE NUMBER

Four men have been charged with yesterday’s holdup of a National Bank of Washington branch at 3806 12th st. ne.

They are Earl (Killer) Coleman, 24, of 1329 P st. se.; Ronald Alston, 31, of 318 Channing st. ne.; Alvin J. Tobin, 23, of 1810 Bay st. se., and Winfield L. Roberts, 22, of 818 Chesapeake st. se. U.S. Commissioner Sam Wertleb set bond at $15,000 for each and continued their cases until Dec. 6.

Here is how police described the robbery:

About 9:45 a.m., four masked gunmen entered the bank. One stood in the center of the floor. The other three jumped behind the teller’s cages and started scooping money into canvas bags. One of them punched teller Maxine Hayes when she was slow in getting out of his way.

One of two customers in the bank slipped out the front door and ran the street yelling that the bank was being held up. Another customer who was about to enter the bank ran across the street to a Safeway Store, whose

manager called in the first of several notices police were given.

Scattering change and bills over the bank floor, the bandits fled with their bags full, three of them out of the front door, the fourth out a side door. Their getaway car, a Mustang with stolen D.C. tags, failed to start right away, delaying their flight long enough for the fourth bandit to get in‑‑‑and for the man who first alerted police to jot down the car’s tag numbers.

They drove about two blocks north on 12th Street ne., where they switched to a haul‑it‑yourself truck with Ohio tags. So frantic was the transfer that more money was scattered in the street and police got several more citizens calls with the truck’s tag numbers.

The suspects drove the truck to South Dakota Avenue and onto the Baltimore‑Washington Parkway, then doubled back into the District along Kenilworth Avenue. Fourteenth Precinct scout car Pvts. James E. Lukie and Roswell P. Yates zoomed in behind them off an access ramp from which they had been watching for the fleeing truck.

Lukie and Yates ordered the truck to pull over to the side and, with the assistance of Tactical Force Dets. Wilbert L. Dunn and Donald E. Blake , ordered Coleman out from behind the wheel at gunpoint. Also captured were Alston, Tobin, and Roberts, who had been lying in truck’s rear on mattresses, more of the bank’s money and some clothing they had changed, police said.

Bank officials said a total of $14, 287.32 was taken and all of it was recovered.

Police said it was the third time in a little more than three years that the National Bank of Washington branch has been held up. Three men are serving time for a $66, 000 holdup there on Dec. 30, 1963, and three others are awaiting trial for a $23,425 stickup there on Nov. 19, 1965.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 22, 1971, PAGE C6

POLICE FIND LOST CHILD; WOMAN HELD

Metropolitan police robbery squad detectives arrested a Northwest woman on a kidnaping charge yesterday and reunited a 2-month-old boy; reported missing since June 10, with his mother here last night, police said.

Mary T.N. Harris, 24, of 1530 6th St. NW, an unemployed hotel maid, was arrested about 7:30 p.m. in her apartment and held in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to police.

Detectives said that 2-month-old Joe Richard Condrey, son of Diane Jackson, 15, of 62 O St. NW was found asleep on a daybed, in good health, in the apartment at the 6th Street address.

According to police, Miss Jackson said she had taken the child June 10 to Freedman’s Hospital, to meet a woman who had told her that welfare payments could be received for the child if he were examined.

At the hospital, Miss Jackson said, she handed the child to a woman, who she said claimed to have been a welfare worker. Miss Jackson said the woman took the baby and told her to wait. The woman never came back she said.

Police said they went to the 6th Street apartment building yesterday after a woman living there had telephoned Freedman’s Hospital asking whether a child had been born there recently to Mary Harris.

The arrest culminated an intensive 11-day investigation by Sgt. Donald Blake and three other detectives.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1980, PAGE C2

KOREAN MERCHANTS HERE BEFUDDLED BY U.S. JUSTICE

Since David Chu has owned his convenience store in the heart of the 14th Street redevelopment area, he has been vandalized, hit by shoplifters and robbed at gunpoint four times in one year alone.

Yet none of his brushes with crime over the four years unnerved the Korean businessman quite as much as his first encounter with American justice.

The day after one of Chu’s armed assailants was caught, the youth turned up in Chu’s store, shopping.

“It scared everyone to death,” Chu said.

“In Korea, anyone who robs or kills will be killed or sentenced to life imprisonment,” he said. “Here we find the law is too weak.”

Befuddled by a criminal justice system where criminals go free and victims waste work days in court, about 20 Korean business people Saturday met with members of the police’s robbery squad for a lesson in coping with American justice.

Armed with slides and a program recorded in Korean, the officers explained how the American system of justice works—from arrest to conviction. Police brochures outlined holdup prevention techniques, and the officers emphasized how important it was to prosecute cases.

“We have to impress upon them that in order for our criminal justice system to work they must come to court and prosecute people,” said Sgt. Donald E. Blake of the robbery division.

“if a business get a reputation for not prosecuting, the criminals will keep coming back. We know this for a fact.”

Though they represent less than 5 percent of the District’s population, Korean merchants run half the city’s “mom and pop” grocery stores. In 1979, 20 percent of the city’s reported armed robberies were in the stores.

Early in January a D.C. police sergeant shopping in a Korean-owned 7-Eleven store in Southeast Washington shot and killed an armed robber who fired two shots, missing everyone.

A grand jury cleared the officer, Sgt. Arnold Nicholson, of any charges in the incident. And the Korean Businessman’s Association presented him with a plaque during the workshop.

“We felt Sgt. Nicholson did prevent the killing of one Korean businessman,” John Yoon, vice president of the association said in an interview. “We’re grateful. We’re not trying to praise somebody who kills somebody, but somebody who protects us.”

Chu, who is vice president of one of the merchants groups that sponsored the workshop, said the groups are encouraging Korean store owners to report crimes, study crime prevention techniques and follow through with prosecuting cases.

Chu said merchants are also beginning to air complaints about the police.

“Most complain police come late,” he said. Others argue that bilingual police officers are needed to communicate with Koreans who cannot fully describe the crimes in English.

“Koreans think police don’t cooperate and police think Koreans don’t cooperate. I think we have to get together. As long as we’re living here and doing business, we need instruction on how the system works,” Chu said.

Adding to the confusion, Chu said, is a debate among Korean merchants as to whether they should arm themselves. Half feel they should, he said, the other half don’t.

But because many of them don’t understand American law, the merchant’s attempts to protect themselves have sometimes backfired, Chu said.

“A businessman with a permit to use a gun in his store chased a robber outside and found it was against the law to carry the gun outside his store. The businessman had to go to court. The crook got away.”

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DON JOINED THE DEPARTMENT IN 1964 AFTER A TOUR WITH THE ARMY. HE RETIRED IN 1985, AND JOINED THE STATE DEPARTMENT DOMESTIC SECURITY SECTION. HE WAS EVENTUALLY PROMOTED  TO LEAD THAT UNIT. DON THEN PIONEERED THE CREATION OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S UNIFORM SECURITY BRANCH AND LED THE COUNTRY-WIDE 850 MAN FORCE. HE RETIRED IN 2008, AND IS LIVING WITH HIS WIFE, THERESA, IN VIRGINIA.. 

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