Memorial to Elmer L. Hunter

End of Watch: March 20, 1963
Rank: Officer   Badge No. 1911
Age: 24   Years of Service: 1 year
Location of Death:  3109 Nichols Avenue, SE
Duty Assignment:  11th Precinct

 

Circumstance:

While escorting a man off a city bus, Officer Hunter became involved in a scuffle. The suspect drew a .32 caliber handgun and shot Officer Hunter three times before Officer Hunter could return fire. Officer Hunter died from his injuries an hour later.

Biography:

Officer Hunter had less than two years on the force. He was married to his wife, Jacqueline and had two children, 3-year-old son Rodney and 5-year old son Danny.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER ELMER L. HUNTER ON MARCH 20, 1963

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 21, 1963, PAGE A1

Dishwasher Charged as Police-Killer

Seized 6 Hours After Crime as He Returns for Hat
A 37-year-old unemployed dishwasher was charged yesterday with the fatal shooting Tuesday night of police Pvt. Elmer L. Hunter, 24.

Arrested about six hours after the slaying, the suspect was booked as Joseph G. Jenkins, of 51 U St. NW. He was ordered held without bond after an impassive appearance before United States Commissioner Sam Wertleb.

He is scheduled to appear at 11 a.m. Friday for an inquest into Pvt. Hunter’s death which occurred in the line of duty his wife said he had undertaken less than a year ago against her wishes.

Homicide Squad detectives said the suspect, in town only about seven months from Greenville, S.C., gave them a statement on the slaying.

Returned for His Hat
It included, the said, the incidental information that he had been returning to the shooting scene at Nichols and Alabama Aves. SE— after a favorite hat he had lost in a scuffle with Pvt. Hunter—when he was arrested.

The FBI said Jenkins has a police record for minor offenses. He served a jail sentence in Greenville for drunken driving, and he was arrested in Fort Pierce, Fla., for destroying property.

The FBI said that its laboratories were running ballistic tests on a 32-caliber pistol police said Jenkins was carrying in the folds of an umbrella when he was picked up. Bullets fired from it will be compared with three taken from Pvt. Hunter’s body, they said.

Hunter had been shot almost at point-blank range in the left chest, the stomach and the back, police said. A single shot Hunter managed to get off from his service revolver apparently went wild.

Public Aroused
The tragic gunplay touched off a number of public reactions.

District Commissioner Walter N. Tobriner suggested public contributions to a Pvt. Elmer L. Fund for the benefit of the slain policeman’s widow and two small sons and started the project off with a $100 contribution of his own.

Rep. Joel T. Broyhill (R.Va.) Called the shooting “an outrage against decency in the human race” and said in a statement that it “should strengthen our resolve to face up to the stark necessity for strong and immediate steps to curb the rapidly growing crime rate in the District…”

The NAACP (both Pvt. Hunter and his suspected slayer are black) termed the slaying “one of the most deplorable tragedies for our city.”

“Borrowed” Gun
Police said Jenkins told them that Tuesday he had “borrowed” from an aunt with whom he lives—without her knowledge—the .32-caliber pistol he was carrying when Pvt. Hunter took him off a D.C. Transit System bus for non-payment of his fare shortly after 11 o’clock that night.

The policeman was leading him across the street when he decided that he “didn’t want to be locked up” and tried to break away. Pvt. Hunter, however, maintained his hold and in the course of the struggle Jenkins pulled his aunt’s gun and shot him, police said the suspect told them.

In the heavy downpour of that evening, he fled on foot about six blocks east to a red sports coupe he found parked along the curb in the 300 block of Raleigh St. SE, Jenkins said, and there he spent the next six hours while more than 100 policemen, on foot with dogs and in cars combed the area.

Wounds Fatal
Pvt. Hunter, meanwhile, died within the hour at Hadley Memorial Hospital, despite heroic staff efforts to keep the faint spark of life they found flickering.

(An account of the policeman’s death in late editions of The Washington Post yesterday erroneously reported that Pvt. Hunter had died before an emergency supply of “plasma” could be rushed to the hospital. A supply of O-negative type blood was enroute when the policeman expired, a hospital spokesman explained, and could not have been used, anyway, because Pvt. Hunter died before his system could be provided with the necessary plasma.)

Police said their suspect maintained essentially the same attitude towards his predicament that witnesses said probably prompted his victim’s decision to arrest him. He seemed most concerned that he lacked some medicine he had been taking for epileptic symptoms, police said.

The suspect is married, police said, and his wife, (niece of the registered owner of the death weapon) recently underwent surgery at Washington Hospital Center. There are no children.

At 1910 Mississippi Ave. SE, home of the dead policeman, his wife, Jacqueline, seemed drained of emotion.
“I never wanted him to be a policeman,” she assured reporters slowly, almost listlessly, as she clutched their 3-year-old Rodney to her.

In obvious contrast, the Hunter’s 5-year-old son, Danny, seemed actively intent on dismantling a kitchen chair. Danny, his mother said while his efforts were at their noisiest, hadn’t yet been told of his father’s death.

The boy was immensely proud of his father’s badge, his father’s uniform and the various accoutrements of police authority—and public service—his father had acquired, Mrs. Hunter conceded.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 26, 1963, PAGE A3

400 Police Bow at Rites For Slain Pvt. Hunter
More than 400 policemen attended the funeral of Pvt. Elmer L. Hunter yesterday and a possession accompanied by 50 motorcycle policemen stretched 15 blocks in length as it wound its way to Arlington Cemetery.

Hunter, 24, was shot to death last Tuesday when he attempted to arrest a man who had refused to pay his fare on a D.C. Transit bus at Nichols and Alabama Aves. SE Police are holding Joseph E. Jenkins, 51, an unemployed dishwasher, for action before the grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder.

The possession began after services at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. 17th and E. Capitol Sts., where Hunter was eulogized by a group of speakers for having given his life for his work.

Led by a Metropolitan Police color guard, the procession was headed by Chief Robert V. Murray and top officials in the Police Department and delegations from police forces from throughout Washington, including White House and Park Police.

Passing No. 11 precinct, where Hunter had been stationed, at Nichols Ave. and Chicago St. Hunter was saluted by 40 policemen who stood in front of the station at attention.

Hunter’s wife, Jacqueline, and members of their families were in the possession. Hunter was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, having served in the Navy. A Navy chaplain delivered a sermon at the grave, followed by playing of Taps and firing of a salute by the Navy honor guard.

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Slain Officer Fund Growing
More than $3000 has been contributed so far to the family of Pvt. Elmer L. Hunter, including $1000 from the D.C. Transit System, Police Chief Robert V. Murray announced yesterday.

Hunter had ordered a man off a D.C. Transit bus near Alabama and Nichols Aves. SE, March 19 because he had refused to pay his fare. Moments later, the man shot Hunter to death at a nearby call box.

Murray also reported that Ben Strouse, president of WWDC, had donated $100 to the fund.
Officers of the Eleventh Precinct where Hunter had been stationed, have donated or received a total of $400. Murray has authorized his precinct commanders to accept contributions from citizens.

The 24-year-old policeman, a Navy veteran, was buried Monday with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Hunter left a wife and two small children. They live at 1910 Mississippi Ave. SE

Joseph G. Jenkins, 37, of 51 U St. NW, is being held for action of the grand jury on a charge of homicide. Police have said Jenkins, an unemployed dishwasher, has told of shooting Hunter because the police officer “started talking hateful to me.”
Persons wishing to donate to the fund may also send checks, made payable to the Pvt. Elmer L. Hunter Fund to the National Bank of Washington branch at 7th and C Sts. NW

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 22, 1963, PAGE B1

Inquiry Asked Into Police Training
Sen. Vance Hartke (D-Ind) announced yesterday he had asked the Senate District Committee to set a hearing for May 15 on Metropolitan Police training programs.

Hartke said his request was the result of the March 20 fatal shooting of Police Pvt. Elmer L. Hunter, who was killed after he removed a man from a bus.

“There is reason to believe that the officer had not searched the suspect,” the Senator said. He suggested that the committee, of which he is a member, hear from Police (Chief) Robert V. Murray and police training aides.

After Hartke first announced his intention to study the problem on March 25, Murray said nearly 10 per cent of his 2800-man force were placed on active patrol duty after 10 days of training. Murray said increases in crime made this measure necessary. Hartke said a hearing was needed to bring out the full details of the training situation.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 7, 1963, PAGE A3
Slayer of Policeman Held Mentally Incompetent
A 37-year-old dishwasher, charged with first-degree murder in the street-corner shooting of a police rookie last March 19, has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Joseph G. Jenkins, formerly of 51 U St. NW, was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital by Judge George L. Hart Jr., of U.S. District Court. Judge Hart acted after hospital psychiatrists said that Jenkins was unable to understand the charges against him or to participate in his own defense.

The policeman, Eleventh Precinct Pvt. L. Hunter, 24, was shot in the chest after removing a passenger who had refused to pay his fare from a D.C. Transit System bus at Nichols and Alabama Aves. SE He was the father of two minor children and had been on the police force less than a year.

The fatally wounded officer was found shortly after the incident lying near a gutter across the street from a call box to which he apparently had been taking his assailant.

Jenkins was arrested a few hours later following an all-night search in the vicinity of the shooting. Police said they found him hiding in a parked car.

At the time of his arrest, he told police that he suffered from “spell” and had been seized by one prior to the shooting. The arresting officers quoted him as saying he had shot Hunter because the officer manhandled him and talked “hateful” to him.

Following the indictment, Jenkins was sent to St. Elizabeth’s for mental observation. Judge Hart acted after receiving a letter describing Jenkins condition from Dale C. Cameron, the hospital superintendent.

In the letter, Dr. Cameron said that Jenkins was suffering from “chronic brain syndrome” of an undetermined nature. He added the condition was associated with “convulsive disorders” resulting in abnormal behavior reactions.

Under the commitment order, Jenkins must be confined to St. Elizabeth’s until such time as the doctors consider him competent to stand trial. Should his condition improve to this point, District law would then require that he stand trial to determine whether he was insane at the time of the shooting.

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NOTE: NO OTHER ARTICLES WERE FOUND CONCERNING THE SUSPECT UNTIL THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTED ON APRIL 13, 1970, THAT A CAB DRIVER WAS ROBBED IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. THE CAB DRIVERS NAME WAS JOSEPH G. JENKINS. IT IS NOT KNOWN IF THIS WAS THE SAME JENKINS. THAT FULL NAME HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED IN THE POST SINCE THAT TIME