Memorial to Grady Beacham
End of Watch: December 2, 1948
Rank: Corporal Badge No.
Years of Service: 17 years
Location of Death: 1601 Montello Avenue, NE
Circumstance: Corporal Beacham, and two other officers, responded to 1601 Montello Avenue, NE for a domestic call for a man with a gun who was also wanted on an arrest warrant. The female complainant reported that her ex-husband was drunk and in possession of a handgun and a shot gun. Upon arrival of the police the armed suspect barricaded himself in the bedroom. One officer covered the rear and Corporal Beacham and another kicked open the bedroom door. Corporal Beacham was met with a shotgun blast to the chest and died instantly. His partner returned fire and killed the suspect.
Corporal Beacham was married and had an 11-year old daughter.
Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOTGUN SHOOTING DEATH OF CORPORAL GRADY A. BEACHAM ON DECEMBER 2, 1948.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 4, 1948, PAGE B1
Killer Was Loaded With Gin, Whisky and Wine, Officers Learn From Woman
Wilkerson Threatened to “Get” Policeman, Testimony at Coroner’s Inquest Disclosed
Just before he killed a policeman and in turn was cut down by police shots, former convict Robert S. Wilkerson told Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong who had secretly summoned police to her home: “If that’s the police, I’ll get them.”
That threat was recounted yesterday to a coroner’s jury investigating the deaths of Wilkerson and Police Corporal Grady A. Beacham, 40, of 4300 N. 18th St., Arlington.
Corporal Beacham was slain by a shotgun blast by Wilkerson. Beacham and Pvts. Harvey C. Womble and Roy R. Swank had responded to a call at the 1601 Montello Ave. ne home of Mrs. Armstrong, who had repeatedly sought police aid during the four years Wilkerson was her suitor.
Ballistics Report Awaited
After hearing testimony from police officers and others, the inquest yesterday was recessed pending a ballistics report to determine which policeman fired the shots that killed 40-year-old Wilkerson.
Sergeant John K. Baker of the homicide squad testified that before Corporal Beacham died he fired two shots at Wilkerson from his Colt service revolver, and five shots were fired from the six-shot Smith & Wesson revolver of Womble. Baker said the FBI is now checking both weapons and the battered slug that struck Wilkerson.
Baker said Mrs. Armstrong, who was reported under the care of a physician at home yesterday, told him she warned Wilkerson three or four weeks ago that she had sworn out a warrant to keep him away from her.
Promised to Go on Wagon
Wilkerson then reportedly promised to stop drinking, and Thursday, he called from a Silver Spring construction job where he worked as a bulldozer operator.
She met him, according to her account, and found he had been drinking gin and whisky, and had a bottle of wine.
Baker said they sat in a park talking and went to her home about 2:30 p.m. Wilkerson was threatening her, and about 9 p.m. she came out of the bedroom where the shooting later occurred, and whispered to her son, Donald, 17, to call police.
When Wilkerson heard the police at the door, she told Baker, he declared, “If that’s the police, I’ll get them.”
Wombles report states Beacham kicked the door open, and Wilkerson immediately fired a blast at Beacham from a .12-gauge single barreled shotgun, hitting him in the chest. Beacham fell back and he and Womble then opened fire.
Threatened Two Women
Mrs. Doris Golden, 20, blonde daughter of Mrs. Armstrong, said Wilkerson “several times” threatened her mother’s life and also “threatened my life.” She said she warned police at the door Thursday night that Wilkerson had a gun, but they brushed past her.
On several occasions, said Donald Armstrong, he saw Wilkerson with a .38 caliber revolver which “he kept at our house under the mattress, I think.”
Asked by Coroner A. Magruder MacDonald if Wilkerson “lived there,” Donald said, “No, he came there. He forced his way in.”
The shotgun, said Donald, was an old family gun, kept on the back porch.
Similar accounts were given the coroner’s jury by a younger brother, Kenneth, 13, and a friend of Donald’s, Howard Hubscher, 16, of 1255 Penn St. NE, in the house at the time.
Jailed for Robbery
Mrs. Golden told reporters after the inquest that she is separated from her husband, and that her mother, who is 45 years old, had been separated from Armstrong for some years.
Wilkerson had no fixed address. His mother, Mrs. Bertie Wilkerson, lives at 215 Adams St. NE. Wilkerson had appeared in court here on a variety of charges and served several prison terms in this area for robbery, auto theft and other offenses, with a record back to 1935.
Funeral services are to be held Sunday for Corporal Beacham at his birthplace, Kitty Hawk, N.C., one of his brothers, Shelton Beacham, said last night.
Burial will also be there on Sunday afternoon, the brother said. Today the body may be viewed at Hyson’s funeral home, 1300 N St. NW, between 10 and 11 a.m.
Corporal Beacham’s immediate family includes his wife, the former Easter Tillett of Kitty Hawk, and their 11-year-old daughter, Ina Lynn.
His slaying yesterday brought an announcement from the District Commissioners that they will renew their support of increased pension scales for widows and orphans of District police and firemen.
The proposal was passed by the House of Representatives last year, but not acted upon by the senate.
It would raise present pension rate of $60 a month for a widow to $100, while each child under 18 would receive $25 a month. At present, $10 a month is provided for each child to age 16. The monthly pension of a widow whose husband was killed in the line of duty would be $125 under the proposal.
Contributions to the fund would be raised from 3.5 per cent taken from firemen’s and policemen’s pay, to 5%.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 8, 1948, PAGE 16
Womble Shot Wilkerson, Inquest Told
Robert S. Wilkerson, 34, former convict, who slew a policeman last Thursday, was killed by a bullet from the gun of the slain policeman’s partner, a coroner’s jury learned yesterday at an inquest into the double shooting.
After deliberating only 10 minutes, the jury exonerated the partner, Pvt. Harvey C. Womble of the Ninth Precinct, on grounds of justifiable homicide.
Single Bullet Fatal
Wilkerson died of a single bullet wound in the head after blasting Corporal Grady A. Beacham, 40, with a shotgun when Beacham and Womble entered a home at 1601 Montello Ave. NE, to serve a warrant on Wilkerson.
Before he died, Beacham fired two shots at Wilkerson from his Colt revolver. At the same time, Womble, standing directly behind Beacham, fired six shots from his Smith & Wesson. The coroner’s jury was told that ballistics tests indicated a bullet from Womble’s gun killed Wilkerson.
In returning a verdict of justifiable homicide, the jury found that Womble had acted in defense of his own life and in his capacity as a police officer in maintaining an arrest after a felony had been committed in his presence.
Beacham and Womble had gone to the Montello Ave. house after its occupant, Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong, who had sworn out the warrant to keep Wilkerson away from her, reported to police that he was there. Wilkerson was in a bedroom and fired when Beacham burst in the door.