Memorial to Arthur H. Gelhar

End of Watch: August 8, 1931
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 9 years, 6 months
Age: 38
Location of Death: 3000 Connecticut Ave, NW

 

Circumstance:

While a passenger in Emergency Car #56, Officer Gelhar and his partner were responding to 2812 Connecticut Avenue, NW, for a homicide call. As the police car was traveling south on Connecticut Avenue, a motorman was in front of them with sirens activated. Citizens moved out of the way for the motorman but did not expect a car to follow. As the police car reached the National Zoo a vehicle turned in front of them, causing an accident. The police car flipped into the air. Officer Gelhar suffered a skull fracture and died the following day.

 

Biography:

Officer Gelhar was married and the father of two children

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
INCIDENT IN WHICH JAMES J. GILDEA EARNED THE GOLD MEDAL AWARD FOR VALOR
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 23, 1974, PAGE B1
LIQUOR STORE ROBBER SLAIN BY POLICEMAN
An off-duty policeman shot and killed an armed robber and wounded a suspect yesterday in a wild exchange of gunfire in a crowded liquor store at 441 New Jersey Ave, NW.

A clerk unloading a case of liquor in a storage area in the rear of the store was wounded in the arm and shoulder, metropolitan police said.

Shortly afterward two other policemen, who had a radio lookout broadcast for two suspects and the car they were driving, stopped a blood bespattered Volkswagen at 2nd and E Streets NW, and arrested two men, police reported.

The off-duty policeman was identified as James J. Gildea, 32, a 13-year veteran of the force who is assigned to the traffic division. Gildea was in the store, in casual clothes, at the time the holdup men entered, investigators said.

Police identified the dead gunman as Ira A. Smith, 19, of 2424 Elvans Rd., SE. They identified the two arrested men as Michael Eugene Moses, 20, of no fixed address, and Arrelious Gregg, 17, of 1430 Spring Rd., NW., a juvenile who was charged as an adult. Gregg had a bullet wound in the nose and was taken to D.C. General Hospital.

Both were accused of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer. Capt. Robert M. Boyd, chief of the homicide squad, said they may also be charged with murder because of Smith’s death.

The wounded clerk was identified as Ralph Prased, 27, of 2030 O Street, NW. He was admitted to the Washington Hospital Center where his condition was described as “not serious.”

The robbery attempt at Kogod Liquor Store at 3:30 p.m. was the 18th armed robbery reported in the District yesterday, including the holdup of the Riggs Bank at 7th and W streets, NW, which was the 108th financial institution holdup this year. It equaled the 1971 record, which 108 such holdups occurred in a 12-month period in the city.

Smith’s death was the 25th homicide in the District so far this month. Thirty-three persons were killed in the city in October, a record for one month. To date this year, there have been 254 homicides in the District compared to 252 on the same date in 1973.

“The fact is that crime is up,” said Acting Chief John S. Hughes. “We’re using every resource at our command to try to stop it.”

Witnesses and police gave this account of the episode at the liquor store:

Three armed men walked into the store. One ordered the customers and one of the proprietors, Theodore Kogod, “up against the wall.”

Then Officer Gildea, standing among the customers, pulled his service revolver and said to the men, “Drop your guns.” Shooting broke out immediately.

Grassed, the clerk, was hit by shots fired by Smith, the dead gunman, according to police.He pushed an alarm button to alert police.

Two of the men ran from the store without taking any money.

As a result of the alarm set off by Kogod, police broadcast a warning that a holdup was in progress at the store. Patrolman G.K. Wakeman, who was in a nearby police car, heard the call and responded. When he arrived in front of the store, a woman gave him the license number of the car in which the two men had fled.

Wakeman radioed headquarters and the tag number was broadcast together with a lookout for two suspects.

Officer Ed Jones and Robert Samuels were patrolling nearby in another car and heard the radio broadcast of the description of the car and the tag number. They spotted a car and followed it to 2nd and E Streets NW, where they ordered the driver to pull over and arrested both occupants.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 24, 1974, PAGE 4

3 CHARGED IN SLAYING AT HOLDUP
Three men were arrested after the aborted armed robbery of a Northwest Washington liquor store Friday have been charged with felony murder in connection with the death of Ira. A. Smith, a fourth holdup suspect, D.C. police reported yesterday.

Smith, 19, was shot to death by an off-duty police officer, James J. Gildea, one of several customers in the Kogod Liquor Store, 441 New Jersey Ave. NW, when four men entered and announced a holdup, police said.

Michael Eugene Moses, 20, 1337 6th St. NW; Arrelious Gregg, 17, 1413 Spring Rd. NW, and Benny Thomas, 20, 1731 Gainesville St. SE were being held last night, police said.

In addition to the felony murder charge, the three also have been charged with armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer, police said.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 27, 1975, PAGE C7

DETECTIVE FINALLY GETS HIS 70 CENTS
Det. James J. Gildea, 30, a veteran member of the metropolitan police force, had to wait almost three months before he got his 70 cents change from $1 he had paid for a pack of cigarettes at Kogod’s Liquor Store when it was held up last November.

Yesterday at a breakfast ceremony sponsored by the Washington Liquor Stores Association at the Wellington Hotel, Gildea was named policeman of the month for November, received a $100 bond and a certificate. The store’s owner, Roslyn Kogod, told the group the problem of the 70 cents change had worried one of her clerks ever since the holdup took place.
Gildea, who had just given a clerk the $1 and was waiting for his change when the robbery began, called out to the holdup men that he was a policeman. The two fired 13 shots at him and he fired two shots, killing one of the men and wounding the other.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 3, 1975, PAGE A4

CITY POLICEMAN FIREMAN LAUDED
A D.C. police detective who foiled a liquor store robbery by four gunmen, and a firefighter who helped rescue a woman and child from a fourth-story apartment were awarded Gold Medals for Valor yesterday at the Washington Board of Trade’s annual Police and Firefighters Awards Luncheon.

Detective James J. Gildea and fireman Bruce J. Nelson were cited for acting without regard for their own safety by a selection committee appointed by Mayor Walter E. Washington.