Memorial to Elmer A. Swanson

End of Watch: July 6, 1932
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 11 months
Age: N/A
Location of Death: 506 First Street, SE

 

Circumstance:

Officer Swanson was on perimeter guard for a barricade situation at 506 First Street, SE. More than 100 rounds had been fired by a deranged suspect from the home. More than 500 policemen and U.S. Marines responded to the incident and engaged in the shootout. At one point, the suspect ran from the home when it was filled with tear gas and opened fire, striking Officer Swanson in the head. Officer Swanson was taken to Providence Hospital where he succumbed to the wound.

The man ran back into the home without being struck by the return fire. He was eventually apprehended after being wounded in the arm. After being arrested he stated he only wanted to have some fun. He was indicted for first degree murder and found insane.

 

Biography:

Officer Swanson had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for only three months and was assigned to the Ninth Precinct. He was survived by his wife. He is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Suitland, Maryland.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER ELMER A. SWANSON AND WOUNDING OF TWO OTHERS ON JULY 5, 1932. THOUSANDS OF ONLOOKERS WATCHED THIS BARRICADE SITUATION UNFOLD AS 100 SHOTS WE FIRED BY 500 POLICE OFFICERS AND U.S. MARINES. THIS INCIDENT CAUSED THE CREATION OF THE DEPARTMENTS RIOT SQUAD.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 6, 1932, PAGE 1
TEAR BOMBS USED IN SEIZE ON HOME CLOSE TO CAPITOL
Gunman Gives Himself Up After Two Hour Battle With Army of 500 Around House; Shot in Arm.
WANTED SOME FIREWORKS, HE GIVES AS EXPLANATION
Roomer Is Forced to Undergo Barrage From Marines and All Law Forces, But Finally Escapes; Thousands at Scene.
After killing one policeman and wounding another seriously, Nicholson A. Long, apparently mad, early today was shot in the arm and captured by police in his house after a two-hour gun battle with nearly 500 policemen and marines.

He had battled the officers with several pistols after they had been summoned to the house late last night. Despite a barrage of machine guns, rifles and police pistols, which poured into the house, he was struck but once.

The dead policeman is Private E.A. Swanson, of the Ninth Precinct, who arrived on the scene in a radio scout car. He was shot through the forehead and died at Providence Hospital, his wife, Ida A. Swanson, at his side.

Forced Out by Tear Gas.
Four bullet wounds through the arm and chest were suffered by Private A.C. Poulson, of the First Precinct. He was removed to Emergency Hospital.

Tear gas forced Long from the house. He was immediately grabbed by a score of policemen and hurried to the Fourth Precinct station. There he said: “I just did it to have some fun; to start some fireworks.”

In the house during the long barrage was R.E. Taylor, who had been a roomer at the Long home for about six weeks. He was forced to obey the madman or be shot to death.

Finally driven frantic by the gas, Taylor ran to a window and leaned out yelling “I am an innocent man.” As Long shot at him, he jumped out.

Treated for Gas Poisoning.
Fortunately, police did not shoot at him and he was unhurt. He was taken to Providence Hospital and treated for tear gas poisoning.

Swanson, a rookie of a few months service, was struck when a tear gas bomb forced Long from the house.

He dashed out on the porch, Swanson and several other officers were standing on the lawn of the house at the southeast corner of E and First streets.

Long shot and Swanson fell back on the lawn and lay still. The other officers scattered backward. An unidentified soldier ran to Swanson’s side and pulled him from the line of fire.

Poulsen was shot when he and Policeman Wallrodt, under cover of the heavy gas barrage, that drove Taylor from the house, rushed in and up the steps.

Taken by 2 Policemen.
Poulsen was ahead. Through the acrid smoke of the gas, Long fired four shots. All struck Poulsen in the shoulder and chest. Wallrodt shot and struck Long in the arm. He and Poulsen then closed in on the man.

For nearly 15 minutes there was considerable disorganization—then Lieut. Oscar Letterman, night inspector, and Lieut. John Flaherty arrived on the scene and posted the men. This was just before Swanson received the madman’s bullet.
Barrett and Cannon were walking up the street when, without warning, they were shot at. They ran across the park and dodged behind the trees.

Son Calls for Police
It was learned that the man went mad early in the evening. One of his sons went to the Fourth Precinct station and asked that police be sent. At the time the gravity of the situation was not understood, police said.

Later an older son and the wife of Long were driven from the home by the shooting maniac. Police responded, ran up the steps, and were greeted with a warning “Keep away,” and two shots.

The wife collapsed after she saw the policeman shot. She was taken to Providence Hospital. There she could not answer questions except to say “he was always a mean man.” She was hysterical.

Meanwhile police organization brought Inspector T.R. Bean, several lieutenants and Inspector L.I.H. Edwards, assistant superintendent of police, who assumed charge.

Riflemen, both police and marines from the Marine Barracks, surrounded the house and poured a searing fire. Tear gas bombs were poured in.

Believed to Have Been Hit
Several times Long ran from the house and apparently miraculously escaped the rifle fire. Once he dashed down the front steps, firing as he went. He ducked into the front cellar entrance in the face of a fusillade, apparently hit.

Police at first had no gas masks. For a few minutes, after his dash down the steps, the man’s fire was stilled. As officers were preparing to rush the house the man began firing again from an upper window.

Apparently driven from floor to floor by tear gas, he would appear at an upper window and fire several times, then he would appear again in the rear. Or would fire down from the roof.

Amount of Arms Unknown.
How many guns he had was not known? It was thought that he had at least a rifle and one pistol or revolver. More than one hundred shots were fired, so he apparently had an inexhaustible supply of ammunition.

Swanson, the slain policeman, was married and had four children. His wife, Ida A. Swanson, was at the hospital when he died. He lay on the sidewalk where the soldier dragged him for several minutes before he was loaded into an automobile by policemen and newspapermen.

The soldier who dragged him from the place where he fell stayed beside him and attempted to stop the flow of blood.
At the hospital he was brought into the emergency room where doctors and sisters were treating Mrs. Long for hysteria and collapse.

Inspector Edwards personally went to headquarters and broke down the door of the supply room to get gas masks and flares and gas bombs.

Rescue Squad Called.
Meanwhile the rescue squad was called to bring masks and searchlights to throw on the three story brick house, which is three doors from the corner of E Street.

Thousands of spectators lined streets behind the line of fire. Acrid smoke of the tear gas bombs covered a wide area. Several persons were overcome and treated at Providence Hospital. The gas also forced people from nearby houses. They crouched behind parked autos.

All the streets leading to the house were blocked off by policemen. Street cars of the Anacostia line were stopped.

Finally riot guns and submachine guns were brought up for a concentrated shelling. Before this could be done Long was captured.

Miss Patsy Sullivan, 18 years old, standing on the doorstep of her home, 115 E Street, SE, was overcome by tear gas and sent to Providence Hospital. Her condition was said to be undetermined.

No charge was placed against the madman. There will be an inquest tomorrow.

Among the first of the four police who came to the scene, D.L. Guest, in the Ninth Precinct radio car, ran under the porch, when Long fired at him.

He stayed there during the long fight and nearly succumbed to the tear gas. Staggering out when the battle was over, he was removed to Casualty Hospital, where he remained for treatment.

Another Also Gassed.
Similar was the state of L.O. Tompkins, of the First Precinct, who went onto the roof in the early stages of the siege. He was treated for gas poisoning.

Eight riflemen across the street in the park raked the house with incessant rifle fire. William Merrill Long, 32 years old, one of the man’s sons, was taken to the First Precinct Station and held on charges of investigation.

All the radio cars and police cars in the city were at the scene with the exception of three. This forced these cars to answer many minor calls in the distant parts of the city.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 7, 1932, PAGE 16

POLICEMAN’S DEATH TO BE PROBED TODAY
Carpenter, Captured After Wild Siege, Not Sorry for Murder.

An inquest in the death of Policeman Elmer A. Swanson, who was killed in an attempt to capture the crazed gunman who Tuesday night barricaded himself in his home at 506 First Street, SE, will be held at the District Morgue at 11:30 a.m. today.

Nicholas A. Long, the 64 year old carpenter, whose repeated volleys of shotgun and revolver fire kept police at bay for more than two hours and terrorized the neighborhood, showed no remorse for the murder of Swanson or the wounding of two other policemen in the affray. Long has lived here but two months, coming from National, Md., a small town near Frostburg.

A.C. Poulsen, who was shot four times through the shoulder when he grappled with Long, finally subduing him, is reported recovering at Emergency Hospital.

Swanson, the father of four children, who lived at 4118 Beck Street, SE, was shot in the head as he advanced on the crazed carpenter.

Fired at Two Policemen
Long started his two-hour reign of terror by firing at two policemen who came to the house to investigate a report of trouble. Earlier in the day, he had threatened to kill his wife and family.

Barricaded in the house, Long could be seen standing near the front windows during the lulls in the shooting. A shotgun and a revolver in the hands of the small and apparently mild man frustrated the repeated of more than 300 policemen to capture him.

Lodged in a cell at the Fourth Precinct Station, Long said that he was not sorry for what he had done and that he wanted to die anyway.

Roomer Survives Siege
Hidden in a closet of the house during the battle, Robert E. Taylor, a roomer in the house, barely escaped death at Long’s hands. Police bullets also missed the man when he attempted to give himself up, the police mistaking him for the gunman. Taylor, a cripple, remained in the closet until the odor of the gas bombs became unbearable, and then he ran to a rear window where he protested his innocence. Taylor was booked as a witness to appear at the inquest.

He said that Long had threatened to kill him if he made any attempt to give himself up, and that the crazed man fired several bullets at him while he was standing at the rear window surrendering himself.

Members of Long’s family asked for police protection when he threatened to kill them, but when the desk sergeant of the Fourth Precinct offered to send some reserve officers to the house they left without giving any further information.

Hubert Edgar Long, 35, of 210 First Street, SE, son of the gunman, entered the house and was told to leave and take his mother, wife and two brothers who were sitting in front of the dwelling with him. They then heard a crash of glass and two shots.

According to his sons, Long had been regularly employed and was not in the habit of drinking. They said he had not been drinking prior to his outburst. His wife, who is being treated at Providence Hospital for nervous shock, said, “he was always a mean man.”

Injured in Battle
The policemen injured in the shooting affray were Poulsen, Bedford E. Spittle and Watson Salkeld, who were first to arrive on the scene: Robert R. Klotz and D.L. Guest. None of the injuries was serious and only Poulsen and Spittle were struck by any of the madman’s bullets. The others were treated for the effects of the tear gas as were a number of bystanders.

A double-barreled shotgun, a revolver and a rifle were used by Long in holding the police at bay. He used the shotgun and the revolver mostly.

Swanson, who died at Providence Hospital, was a rookie on the force. His wife, who was with him, collapsed. She will receive a monthly pension of $100.

Swanson’s body was taken to the undertaking parlors of W.H. Sardo Co., where it will remain today. The body will be sent to Milwaukee, Wis. Tonight if Mrs. Swanson decides against burial here.

 

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 8, 1932, PAGE 18

MAD GUNMAN HELD ON MURDER CHARGE
Admits Killing Policeman; 2 Wounded Men Improve; Suspect Indifferent.
Poulsen Is Improving.
A large group of policemen are expected to attend the services for Swanson. Assistant Superintendent L.I.H. Edwards yesterday sent out word to the precincts asking that as many men as possible should attend the rites. The Rev. Henry W. Snyder, pastor of Lutheran Church, Fourth and E streets, NW, will conduct the services.

Swanson’s wife yesterday received a check for $200 from the Policemen’s Association. The dead officer left four children. The widow will receive $100 a month pension.

Private Arthur C. Poulsen, who was wounded was reported to be improving yesterday at Emergency Hospital.

Private D.L. Guest, of the Ninth Precinct station, who was overcome by tear gas while underneath the porch of Long’s home, was discharged at Casualty Hospital yesterday.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 20, 1932, PAGE 14.

POLICEMAN’S KILLER IS ADJUDGED INSANE
Long, Who Held 100 at Bay With Rifle, Committed to St. Elizabeths.

Nicholas A. Long, 64 year old carpenter, who shot and killed Policeman Elmer A. Swanson July 5 before a squad of policemen routed the crazed man from his southeast home with tear gas yesterday was adjudged of unsound mind by a lunacy jury in District Supreme Court.

Dr. Percy Hickling, District alienist, said Long is suffering from arterio sclerosis, and is mentally incapable of handling his own affairs. Dr. Hickling, the only witness, based his testimony on three separate examinations, July 14 and 26 and August 17.

Long was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where he was assigned to Howard Hall ward for the criminally insane. Yesterday’s jury findings still leave Long liable to trial for murder if he ever recovers his sanity, Assistant United States Attorney Julian Richards stated.

The court inquiry was held at the behest of Lucian H. Vandoren, Long’s attorney, who said his client was unable to confer with counsel to prepare his defense.

Long held nearly 100 policemen at bay with a rifle last month when they answered a summons to his home 506 First Street, SE. Policeman Swanson was shot and killed before Long was forced into the open by a tear gas bombardment.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 20, 1932, PAGE 14.

“Polite” Policemen and Riot Squad Planned for Capitol
Glassford Prepares Movie Showing Courteous Way to Handle Drivers; Machine Guns and Gas Equipment Scheduled for New Anti-Hoodlum Unit.

Police will become more polite to traffic offenders and more harsh to “hoodlums” when plans outlined by Brig. Gen. Pelham D. Glassford yesterday becomes effective.

Plans for an emergency squad, equipped to quell riots with gas bombs, machine guns, shotguns, steel helmets and gas masks contrast with plans for movie productions to show policemen the proper way to handle errant drivers.

The riot squad, which will give 24-hour service, will be headed by Lieut. Harvey G. Calihan, instructor at the police school. Three sergeants and 24 policemen will be trained to quell any disturbance that may arise.

The usefulness of such an outfit was indicated in the case of the barricaded maniac, Nicholas A. Long, who on July 5, held 100 policemen at bay at his home, 506 First Street, SE, and killed Policeman Elmer A. Swanson.

Gen. Glassford explained that the new squad would be called out by the inspector in charge at headquarters.

An automobile carrying all necessary equipment would meet members of the squad near the scene of the alarm.
A movie scenario, prepared by Gen. Glassford, will show policemen effective but courteous methods of handling traffic violators.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 11, 1933, PAGE 22.

Police Hero Wins Department Medal
Poulsen Risked His Life to Capture Slayer of Brother Officer.
For the most meritorious service during the last year, Private Arthur C. Poulsen was awarded the Police Department gold medal yesterday by a committee headed by John A. Johnson, former District Commissioner.

He was cited for having captured at personal risk to himself, Nicholas A. Long, a carpenter who, a year ago last July, killed a policeman and barricaded himself in a house in First Street, SE.

A silver medal was awarded to Poulsen’s brother officer, Private George R. Wallrodt, who aided in the capture.

The police department bronze bars were awarded to Private Herman L. Lay for “tact and courage” displayed after he had been wounded seriously in holding a prisoner arrested for attempting to pass counterfeit money. Private Francis C. O’Donnell, of the Fire Department, received bronze bars for carrying four persons to safety from a fire.

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ADDITIONAL FACTS:
LONG’S DAUGHTER KILLED HERSELF WITH HIS GUN FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE SWANSON KILLING.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1927, PAGE 2.
SHOOTS HERSELF WHILE SONG IS BEING PLAYED

Young Woman, Separated From Her Husband, Kills Self With Father’s Pistol.
LEAVES NOTE TO MOTHER
Special to The Washington Post
Cumberland, Md., Feb 17.

Mrs. Mary Dolores Bowen, 19 years old, separated from her husband, William Bowen, had her brother, Carl Firmin Long, play on a talking machine the “Indian Love Call” while she died, smiling today, from a self-inflicted wound at the home of her parents, Mr and Mrs. Nicholas A. Long, at National, near Frostburg.

On Christmas day, 1925, Miss Long was married to Bowen, of Davenport, Iowa, who, she charged, deserted her six months later and against whom action for divorce was pending.

This morning she played the piano just before she wrote a note to her mother saying: “Life is not worth living, and I hope I don’t make a bum job of it. Don’t blame anybody,” and signed it “Dolores.”

She left the note on the dining room table and then went to her bedroom after taking a revolver from her father’s room. Standing before a mirror she fired the fatal shot. She lived five hours.

“I want to die, mother,” she said, when Mrs. Long reached her daughter’s side, the revolver still in her hand.
Mr. And Mrs. Long said their daughter had not been entirely normal mentally since suffering a fractured skull in an automobile accident four years ago, when her brother, Ross, was killed.

 

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MRS LONG LOST A SON IN A CAR ACCIDENT, A DAUGHTER TO SUICIDE, AND THEN HER HUSBAND TO INSANITY.