Memorial to Edgar P. Alexander

End of Watch: November 16, 1929
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 15
Age: 45
Location of Death: Montgomery County, MD

 

Circumstance:

Officer Alexander was representing the Metropolitan Police at a fellow officer’s funeral in Gaithersburg, Maryland. When the funeral was over, Officer Alexander was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a single car accident with a telephone pole. Officer Alexander suffered internal injuries and died on the scene.

Biography:

Officer Alexander had been with the Metropolitan Police Department for 15 years. He was married and had six children.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE 1929 DEATH OF OFFICER EDGAR P. ALEXANDER
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 17, 1929, PAGE M1
TWO MEN DIE, TWO INJURED IN AUTO CRASH
Policeman E.P. Alexander and Edward Arnold Are Killed

DETECTIVE BILLMAN AND MINISTER HURT
Tragedy Occurs Outside Gaithersburg After Cornwell Rites.

DRIVER IS PLACED UNDER $500 BOND
Accused 14th Precinct Man Is Stunned at Realization of Fatality

Policeman Edgar P. Alexander, 45 years old, of the Fourteenth Precinct, and Edward Arnold, of Forestville, Va., were instantly killed and Detective James Billman, of the Fourteenth Precinct and the Rev. Harry Paul Baker, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, were injured shortly after 9 o’clock last night when the automobile, in which they were returning from the funeral of Sergt. George Benjamin Cornwell, of the Fourteenth Precinct, crashed into a telephone pole just outside Gaithersburg, Md.

Arnold was the first cousin of Sergt. Cornwell and Dr. Baker an old friend of the Cornwell family, had officiated at the funeral.

Billman was driving the car down a shape grade one mile west of Gaithersburg on the Middlebrook Hill when the machine ran off the road. Billman, according to the story he told after the accident, tried to steer the runaway car back to the road. The machine skidded, running into the telephone pole.

Car Almost Demolished
The car was not overturned, but was almost demolished. Alexander died from internal injuries, according to Dr. Stanley Barber, of Gaithersburg, who examined the body. Arnold died also instantly of internal injuries, Dr. Barber reported. Billman has severe head lacerations and a severely injured eye. He was treated by Dr. Frank J. Broschardt, of Gaithersburg.
After receiving treatment, Billman was charged by Rockville police with reckless driving. He was released on bond of $500 pending his appearance in police court at Rockville tomorrow morning. An inquest into the accident will probably be held this morning.

Dr. Baker received a possible fracture of the leg and other injuries. He was brought to his home at 3414 Q Street, NW. Dr. Baker had recently taken the place of the Rev. E.C. Berry at the Calvary Baptist Church.

Bodies in Gaithersburg
The bodies of Alexander and Arnold were taken to the Ernest C. Gardner undertaking establishment pending further arrangements.

Alexander leave a wife and six children at 3414 Q Street, NW. Alexander had been on the police force about fifteen years and had been detailed to the Fourteenth Precinct for the greater part of this time. At the time of his death he held the position of an inside man, operating the switchboard at the station house and going on emergency calls with the precinct wagon. Alexander, together with Billman, had been selected to represent the Fourteenth Precinct at the funeral of Sergt. Cornwell.

Arnold was a carpenter and leaves a wife and daughter. He was 45 years old.

Billman Tells of Crash

In describing the accident, Billman said that he lost control of the car as it descended the grade. He was aware of the machine running from the road at the curve and instinctively speeded up in an effort to correct the course of the car, he said. Gaining speed, the machine skidded on striking the telephone pole, Billman said. Billman said that the car was traveling about 30 miles an hour as it traveled down the hill.

When the machine halted after the crash, Billman said that he turned to Alexander, who was in the front seat beside him.
“I thought he was asleep at first,” the detective said when he reported by telephone to police headquarters. “Then I turned and saw Arnold, sitting very still, a little slumped. I thought he was asleep, too, at first. Dr. Baker groaned. Slowly the truth came to me that my two buddies had been killed.”

Men Pronounced Dead
Dr. Barber was summoned to the scene of the tragedy and pronounced the two men dead. He said that with the exception of fractured ribs on both sides, there were no injuries of a particularly severe nature. Death was caused by internal injuries, the exact nature of which had not been determined late last night. Policeman Paul Watkins and Robert House, of the Montgomery County Police, investigated the accident and placed Billman under arrest after he had received treatment.

Through the accident, the Fourteenth Precinct has been robbed of two men within three days. Sergt. Cornwell died Thursday afternoon. He was a champion rifle shot, and the winner of a number of national shooting matches. He was selected by Woodrow Wilson as one of the ten best rifle shots in the Nation. At the time of his death, he had been on sick leave for about two months. Funeral services were held at the Calvary Methodist Church yesterday morning, followed by the burial services at Romney.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 18, 1929, PAGE 8
FUNERAL PLANNED FOR AUTO VICTIM
RITES TO BE HELD TOMORROW FOR POLICEMAN ALEXANDER; BURIAL IN VIRGINIA.
Funeral services for Policeman Edgar P. Alexander, 42 years old, of the Fourteenth Precinct, who was instantly killed Saturday night in an automobile accident near Gaithersburg, Md., in which Edgar Arnold, of Forestville, Va., also was killed, and two others were injured, will be held at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning from the Congress Street Methodist Church. Burial will be at the family plot at Sterling, Va.

The body of Alexander will be brought to his home at 3414 Q Street, NW today. He leaves a wife and six young children who are reported to be virtually destitute. The policeman, at the time of his death was returning from the funeral of Sergt. George Benjamin Cornwell, crack rifle shot and a member of the Fourteenth Precinct, which was held Saturday afternoon at Romney, W. Va.

Arnold was the first cousin of Sergt. Cornwell. The funeral for Arnold will be held at Forestville, the exact day to be announced. He leaves a widow and a 14-year-old daughter.

James Billman, a detective at the Fourteenth Precinct and driver of the automobile, is in Emergency Hospital suffering from lacerations of the head and body. Last night, he was reported to be suffering from intense mental anguish. He faces a charge of reckless driving. Montgomery County authorities decided yesterday not to hold an inquest, declaring that the tragedy was accidental. Regardless of this decision, however, Billman will be obliged to appear in police court in Rockville next Saturday to answer the charges of reckless driving, on which he is now held on $500 bond.

The Rev. Harry Paul Baker, pastor of the Calvary Methodist Church, the other member of the party, is suffering from a fracture of the leg and other injuries.