Memorial to George W. Cassels

End of Watch: July 12, 1953
Rank: Officer   Badge No. N/A
Age: 26   Years of Service: 2 years
Location of Death:  1515 16th Street, NW (Rear)
Duty Assignment:  Third Precinct

 

Circumstance:

While off duty, Officer George Cassels was standing in the 1600 block of P Street, NW, waiting for another off-duty officer to meet him, when the owner of the Gem Cleaners reported to him that he was just robbed at gun point and pointed out the suspect. Officer Cassels gave foot chase and followed the suspect to a rear alley. As the officer exited the alley, the suspect shot him once in the side. Officer Cassels died the following day. The suspect was apprehended the same day.

Biography:

Cassels, a member of the force since October 2, 1950, lived alone in a rooming house at 1740 P St. NW. He was previously married to Ruth D. Cassels. Mrs. Cassels was at his bedside the entire day until he passed. He was a native of Chester, SC.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.

THE 1953 SHOOTING OF OFFICER GEORGE W. CASSELS, AND THE 25 HOUR LONG FUTILE ATTEMPT TO SAVE HIS LIFE WITH THE TRANSFUSION OF 47 PINTS OF BLOOD.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 13, 1953, PAGE 1
25-Hr. Fight To Save Life Of Wounded Hero Fails
Jobless Laborer Held for Homicide After Shooting of Unarmed Private
Police Pvt. George W. Cassels died last night, and a jobless laborer was charged with homicide in the fatal shooting of the Third Precinct policeman, who was critically wounded when pursuing a holdup man.

The suspect was identified as Robert Eugene Carter, 24, of 1523 P St. NW. He was captured at 2 a.m. yesterday, ending a nine-hour manhunt.

Police said Carter admitted both the robbery of the Gem Cleaners and Launderers, 1637 P St. NW., and the shooting of Pvt. Cassels.

While police searched the city Saturday night and early yesterday, physicians at Emergency Hospital battled against high odds to save the life of the 27-year-old policeman.

25-Hour Battle Lost
Cassels died at 6:35 p.m. yesterday—a little more than 25 hours after a single bullet from a German Luger ripped through his body.

The slug pierced his right arm and entered his chest, penetrated the liver and the large and small intestines and lodged in the right kidney.

Surgeons operated for six and one-half hours. Forty-seven pints of blood were used in continuous transfusions.

The policeman’s former wife, Ruth D. Cassels, 3614 Connecticut Ave. NW., was at his bedside all day. He was conscious most of the day.

From the outset physicians had despaired of saving Cassels life, because they were unable to stem the flow of blood.
Cassels, a member of the force since October 2, 1950, lived alone in a rooming house at 1740 P St. NW. He was a native of Chester, S.C.

The policeman, unarmed and off-duty, was fatally wounded about 5:10 p.m. Saturday.

Manager Slugged
Violence erupted in the Northwest neighborhood composed of row houses and small business places Saturday afternoon when a man identifying himself as “J. Carter” walked into the cleaning store and asked Manager Irvin I. Kozak for a pair pants.

When Kozak turned he was slugged with a gun-butt and lay semi-conscious on the floor while the bandit scooped $54 from the cash register.

Moments later the dazed store manager stumbled from the building and told Cassels, waiting in front of a friend’s house nearby, what had happened.

The unarmed Cassels sprinted after the gunman who wheeled and fired.
At that point a police detail under command of Capt. Richard Felber, head of the Homicide Squad, took over.

A witness, Richard Grantham, 7, of 1523 Cochran St. NW., told police the gunman vanished into a house in the 1500 block of P St. NW. Felber scaled off the street and police made a house-to-house search.

At 1523 P St. they came across Mrs. Ruby Lee Carter, 23, and because her last name was the same as that given in the store by the gunman, took the woman to headquarters for interrogation.

Under questioning Mrs. Carter told police: “My husband came in the house and told me he had just robbed a man and shot another man.

Felber learned Carter had dashed into his own home—just a block from the holdup scene and only a few hundred yards away from the shooting—and changed his clothes. He put $52 into a small bank in the house and kept $2.
Mrs. Carter said her husband left the house, walked to Rhode Island Ave. NW., and hailed a cab.

Meanwhile she went to the backyard of their home where Carter had dropped his gun as he vaulted over a fence and recovered the gun which she hid in the house and later turned over to police.

Mrs. Carter gave Police a list of friends and relatives of her husband. Officers were detailed to those places.
At the home of Carter’s mother in Linden, Md., near Silver Spring, police learned the suspect had been there during the evening with a man named “Lowery” in a light green Dodge.

Felber ordered a search of all District automobile registration files and found Thomas Levi Lowery, 30, of 749 Varnum St., listed as the owner of a green Dodge.

Detective Sergts. Emmett R. Waters and Roy C. Schwab and Pvts. J.E. Burroughs and Daniel J. Brost were posted at the

Lowery home and at 2 a.m. arrested both Carter and Lowery when the two men walked into the house.

At headquarters Kozak and the Grantham boy picked Carter out of a lineup and identified him as the bandit.

Carter said he had been out of work for a month. Saturday, he told police, he scouted the neighborhood for a promising place to rob and finally decided on the cleaning establishment.

He said he went to Lowery’s home after changing his clothes and told his friend he had been in a fight. The two men drove to Maryland, stopped at a bar and visited Carter’s mother. They were arrested when they returned.

Carter, who has no previous police record, was charged with robbery and homicide. Mrs. Carter and Lowery were not held.

 

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 13, 1953, PAGE 3

Korea SOS for Blood Opens Center First Time on Sunday
The district Red Cross Blood Center was opened yesterday for the first time in its history on a Sunday because of an emergency appeal for blood in Korea.

The center was jammed all day yesterday with people donating blood for soldiers in Korea and for a Washington policeman fatally wounded Saturday by a holdup man.

The policeman, Pvt. George W. Cassels, 27, received 47 pints of blood in a futile attempt to keep him alive. Some35 persons donated a pint of blood each for him yesterday.

In all, 228 persons donated blood yesterday.

The District blood center was one of 25 centers across the nation that were opened at the request of the Defense Department.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 14, 1953, PAGE 17

Suspect Held For Murder in Cassels Death
Robert E. Carter, charged with murder in the shooting of police Pvt. George W. Cassels, was held for action of the grand jury yesterday.

A coroner’s jury acted after an inquest at which Sergt. Roy C. Schwab of the police homicide squad testified Carter told him he held up a cleaning establishment a block away from his home Saturday afternoon for money to support his pregnant wife and two children, then fled, shooting Pvt. Cassels who was pursuing him.

A brief funeral service for Private Cassels was held last night in Hysong’s funeral home, 1300 N St. NW. His body was sent to Chester, S.C., where burial will take place Wednesday.

Flags at police precinct stations will fly at half-staff until after the funeral.

The slain policeman’s former wife, Ruth D. Cassels, fainted outside the morgue after the inquest as the hearse bearing the body went by.

Doctors at nearby Gallinger Hospital said she was suffering from malnutrition, having eaten nothing for 24 hours. The prescribed a sedative and allowed her to return to her apartment at 3614 Connecticut Ave. NW.
At the inquest, Sergt. Schwab said Carter signed a statement telling how he had found a German Luger pistol at a bus stop in Montgomery County, tried without success to sell it, finally used it Saturday afternoon to slug Irvin I. Kozak, operator of Gem Cleaners Laundry, 1637 P St. NW., for $54.

Pvt. Cassels, who lived in a room at 1740 P St. NW., was waiting a couple of doors down the street for another off-duty 3rd precinct policeman, Pvt. Joseph A. Berti. Unarmed and in civilian clothes, he pursued Carter through an alley to the 1500 block of Church St. NW.

Carter admitted shooting Pvt. Cassels as he emerged into Church St., Sergt. Schwab said.

Two seven-year-olds, Richard Grantham, 1523 Corcoran St. NW., and Fern Johnson, 1523 Church St. NW., testified they were playing hopscotch on the sidewalk and saw the shooting. Fern’s brother, Raymond, Johnson, 10, said he was upstairs in the back of their house and saw Carter retrace his steps to the alley between P St. and Church St. and jump the fence into his backyard.

A 30 year-old electrician, Thomas Lowery, 749 Varnum St. NW., testified Carter, a friend of his, showed up at his house about 8 p.m., had a beer, then went driving with Lowery and other friends in the light green 1951 Dodge which gave police the tip leading to Carter’s arrest at Lowery’s house.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 27, 1954, PAGE 25

Carter Given Chair For Police Slaying
Robert E. Carter, 25, Friday was sentenced to die in the electric chair on October 15, for first degree murder in the slaying of an off-duty policeman last July.

District Court Judge James W. Morris pointed out to Carter and his attorney, William J. Kelly, that the death penalty is mandatory in first degree murder cases.

Carter found guilty by a jury February 23 in the shooting of Pvt. George W. Cassels, 26, stood quietly before the Judge while the sentence was read to him. His attorney told Judge Morris he had nothing to say on behalf of Carter.

However, when the penalty had been imposed, Kelly told the jurist he planned to appeal the conviction.

The jury found Carter guilty of shooting Cassels in the 1500 block of Church St. NW., within minutes after the defendant had held up a dry cleaning and laundry establishment.

Although Carter also was found guilty of robbery, he was not sentenced on this charge. Cassels was shot by Carter as the policeman chased him shortly after the holdup. At the time, Cassels was dressed in civilian clothes.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 28, 1954, PAGE 17

Death Chair in District Jail Empty Since March
If a 25-year-old convicted holdup-killer is executed on schedule next January 14 in the District Jail, his death will end the longest execution-free period in the city’s history.

Not since 24-year-old Albert Allen paid the supreme penalty in March of last year for the push-broom slaying of a Uline Arena employee has the little penthouse room atop the jail claimed a victim.

The only current occupant of “death row” is Robert Eugene Carter, of 1523 P St. NW, who is scheduled to pay with his life for the fatal shooting of Police Pvt. George W. Cassels, 26, in the 1500 block of Church St. NW., on July 11, 1953.
In the strict and traditional interpretation of the term, the District Jail has no “death row.” The five cells immediately adjoining the room housing the electric chair haven’t been occupied by anyone awaiting the chair since two men escaped from them nearly 10 years ago.

The desperadoes, Marine rapist Earl McFarland and James Medley, who had a fatal fascination for red-haired women, subsequently were recaptured and duly put to death.

Their flight, however, pointed up a need for additional guards to care for death row occupants—if there was to be a death row. The solution—no death row.

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 8, 1954, PAGE 20

Article 2—No Title
Police Department Privates William K. Gilbert, Andrew J. Farrell, Thomas D. Farrell, and Randall C. Degges received honorary mentions. Private Bernard Geffen a bronze bar, Capt. Carl D. Schamp a silver medal and, posthumously, Private George W. Cassels a gold medal.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 17, 1956, PAGE 11

Review Refused In Policeman’s Death
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to review the case of Robert E. Carter, under sentence of death in the shooting of a District policeman
Carter was convicted of the first-degree murder of Third Precinct Pvt. George W. Cassels while the policeman was pursuing him after the robbery of a dry-cleaning establishment at 137 P St. NW., July, 1953.
Convicted of murder while committing a felony, Carter contended that the robbery was completely finished when he shot Cassels. He was scheduled to die last October.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 27, 1957, PAGE D1
Carter Dies In Chair for 1953 Slaying
Robert E. Carter, 28, died in the electric chair at District Jail yesterday for slaying an unarmed, off-duty Washington policeman four years ago.

Carter was convicted in February 1954, of fatally shooting Pvt. George W. Cassels, 27, of the Third Precinct, on July 11, 1953.

Cassels was felled by a single shot fired from a German Luger pistol by Carter as Cassels was chasing him from the scene of a $115 holdup in a dry-cleaning shop at 1637 P St. NW.

Carter walked calmly to his death with a prayer on his lips. He smiled briefly at the Rev. Carl J. Breitfeller, Corrections Department Catholic chaplain, who baptized him as a Catholic on Christmas Day, 1954, but showed no other emotion.

On his bared chest, Carter wore a religious medal given him on the day of his baptizism.

Carter, a construction laborer, had been permitted to see his mother, wife and three small children Thursday, the first time he had seen his 4-year-old son.

Carter’s death, delayed by numerous appeals, was the District’s 44th electrocution.

He died a little over four years after Albert Allen, 24, was executed for the push-broom murder of a truck driver.