Memorial to Martin I. Donovan

End of Watch: July 9, 1964
Rank: Officer   Badge No. 58
Age: 28   Years of Service: 4 years
Location of Death:  1127 14th Street, NE
Duty Assignment:  Second Precinct

 

A MESSAGE FROM THE DC MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM PROJECT:
Following the shooting death of Private Robert D. Handwerk in January of 1964, several business leaders, headed by Leonard “Bud” Doggett of Doggett’s Parking and Ed Carl, of Call Carl Inc., met to discuss ways of helping the families of Metropolitan Police Officers killed in the line of duty. Discussions were still underway when another Metropolitan Police Officer, Martin I. Donovan, was shot and killed. With the death of Officer Donovan, plans were finalized and Heroes Inc., was born.

Originally established to help police officers from the DC Metropolitan Police Department, it was soon extended to the DC Fire Department and later to surrounding police and fire departments throughout the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area. The singular goal is to honor the supreme sacrifice made by law enforcement and firefighter of die in the line of duty.

Within 24-hours financial assistance is given. Financial, educational and legal expertise advise is provided free of charge, which lasts as long as it’s needed. Heroes lives on today. Heroes never forgets. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Memorial and Museum shall never forget. All Gave Some – Some Gave All.

Circumstance:
Officer Donovan was walking a foot beat in the Thomas Circle area, when without wanting a mentally disturbed man tackled him. The man tore the officer’s gun from its holster and shot the officer in the chest. Officer Donovan was able to hold onto the suspect until help arrived. The only excuse the ex-military suspect could give was that the police uniform bugged him.

Biography:

Officer Donovan was survived by his wife Elizabeth, who is expecting a child, a daughter, Teresa, his parents, Paul and Natalie Donovan, three brothers and four sisters. Officer Donovan was a military veteran and buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER MARTIN I. DONOVAN ON JULY 9, 1964.

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 10, 1964, PAGE A3

Police Slaying Suspect “Bugged by Uniforms”
A 35-year-old Albanian short order cook was ordered held without bond yesterday after he was charged with shooting a young policeman to death late Wednesday night.

Ddue Frok Zefi, of 923 Massachusetts Ave. NW, who told police that he got “bugged” by the sight of uniforms, is accused of the murder of Police Pvt. Martin I. Donovan, 28, of 5463 Madison Way, Hyattsville.

The shooting took place at about 11 p.m. Wednesday, on 14th St. NW, just south of Thomas Circle.
Police said Donovan was talking to a newspaper vendor, George Price, 64, near the Alamo Grill, 1127 14th St. NW, when Zefi suddenly came rushing at Donovan.

“He charged like a football player,” Price told police. Donovan was knocked off balance and wrestled with the man.
Zefi tore Donovan’s pistol from his holster with such force that the holster’s rivets were ripped out. Several shots were fired. Donovan, shot in the chest, kept fighting and wrestled his assailant to the ground.

Hugh L. Cook, 46, of 1022 Marc Dr., Falls Church, was passing by when he saw the men wrestling on the sidewalk. There was another shot. It came so close to Cook that he felt a powder burn on his cheek.

“I stomped on his wrist,” he told police. “The gun went off again and the bullet whistled past me.” Cook, a linotype operator for the Byron S. Adams Printing Co., 1213 K St. NW, pulled the gun out of the man’s hand. Zefi was grabbed and held by other men running to the scene just as police arrived.

Four Bullets Fired
Clarice E. Simpson, 21, of 10738 Connecticut Ave., Kensington, Md., passed just as Donovan was shot.
“A shot went off and they fell to the ground,” she said. “Then another shot went off, and another, and that one went right by my head. I was hollering for a policeman and an ambulance.”

Police said four of the bullets in Donovan’s gun were fired. One bullet went into his chest and came out his back, they said.
“I knew he was dying,” Miss Simpson said, “so I prayed for him and put my purse under his head.”

Donovan was taken to Washington Hospital Center where physicians struggled for two hours to save his life. He died at 1:15 a.m. yesterday.

Police said the suspect, Zefi, told them: “I didn’t like the way he looked at me. His uniform bugged me.”

They said Zefi told them that anyone in a uniform “bugged” him.

Victim “A Good Cop”
The young policeman that Zefi is charged with killing seems to have been one of the best-liked men around town.
The consensus in the toughest block on his beat is that he was “an honest man, a good cop.”

The testimony isn’t hard to come by and some people wept as they described him.

Donovan’s toughest block was 14th St. NW, between L St. and Thomas Circle, where anything can happen, and does every night.

Billie Murphy, bartender at the Golden Calf, 1133 14th St. NW, wept uncontrollably as she talked about Donovan. “He was one of the nicest men in the world,” she said. “He was good.”
Morris Katz, owner of the Golden Calf, said, “He was a fine man. He was to police work like Mickey Mantle is to baseball.”

“Everybody Liked Him”
And William Poulos, who runs the Alamo Grill with his brother, George, said, “everybody liked him. He was strictly a homemaker. That’s what meant everything to him–his wife and his daughter.”

Everybody on Donovan’s beat knew him and liked him, and all of them were sad yesterday.

“It makes you sick,” said David Parzow, who runs the New York Lounge, 1428 L St. NW. “That man didn’t even like to give people parking tickets. He didn’t give many, either.” A Real Fine Guy”

Sol Becker, who operates Becker’s Liquor Store at 14th and L St. NW, said, “He was terrific. I talked to him an hour or so before he got killed. We talked about the weather and how it was cool, nothing special. He was a real fine guy.”

And across the street from Becker, Ralph Cobb who runs a service station, said, “everybody’s shook. He was one of the best. I used to smile just to see him walk by. He was big and he had a sort of country walk.”

Police said the man accused of killing Donovan, who leaves a wife and three-year-old daughter, served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959, when he received a medical discharge. He receives $44 a month as a disability pension.

He was committed to D.C. General Hospital for observation in 1960.

Deportation Ordered
The U.S. Immigration Service said Zefi has been under deportation orders since his discharge from the Army, but nothing has been done because the Government has no diplomatic relations with Albania.

Yesterday, he was ordered held without bond until July 23, pending the outcome of the coroner’s inquest. U.S. commissioner Sam Wertleb asked Zefi, a slender, balding man, if he understood what was happening to him.

“Can you explain one more time?” Zefi asked. Zefi had been working as a short order cook at the Union Grill, 521 G St. NW. His employer, Kicarchos Karavellas, met Zefi in 1957.

He said Zefi told him that his family, wealthy landowners in Albania, had been killed by Communists in 1943 and Zefi dwelled on this constantly.

The Union Grill bartender, Ragner Skari, said, “You couldn’t even teach him to make a sandwich. He would try to make a sandwich and it would go right from his mind. He would forget what he was doing. He would make more for himself than for the customers.”

Skari said Zefi came to work late Wednesday and Skari told him to go home. “I didn’t fire him. I just told him to go home,” Skari said.

Private Donovan leaves his wife, Elizabeth, who is expecting a child, a daughter, Teresa, his parents, Paul And Natalie Donovan, three brothers and four sisters.

A requiem Mass will be celebrated at 9:15 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Victory Church, 4835 MacArthur Blvd., NW. Burial will be in Arlington Cemetery.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 11, 1964, PAGE C3

Inquest Date In Officer’s Slaying Set
A coroner’s inquest into the slaying of Police Pvt. Martin I. Donovan, 28, has been set for 11 a.m. Thursday.
Held without bond in the shooting is Ndue Frok Zefi, 35, a cook, who lived at 923 Massachusetts Ave. NW Zefi is accused of killing the policeman late Wednesday night on 14th St. NW, just south of Thomas Circle.

In a related development, founders of a new group of business and professional men set up to aid the next of kin of area policemen and firemen killed in the line of duty, revealed names of their founder and officers yesterday.

Heroes, Inc. was suggested by Ed Carl, president of Call Carl Inc., after the slaying last January of Pvt. Robert D. Handwerk, who was a part time employe of Call Carl. Carl is chairman of the Board of Heroes.

Leonard B. Doggett Jr., president of Doggett’s Parking Co., is acting president. Charles A. Horsky, White House Advisor for National Capital Affairs, is a director.

At a press conference yesterday in the group’s temporary headquarters at the Board of Trade, Doggett explained that the organization also would aid volunteer firemen.

Further details will be disclosed at a second press conference Wednesday in the office of Commissioner Walter N. Tobriner.
The slain private’s wife, Elizabeth, who lives at 5473 Madison Way, Hyattsville, was the first beneficiary of the Heroes fund.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 14, 1964, PAGE B3

Slain D.C. Policeman Buried in Arlington
Martin I. Donovan, the Second Precinct policeman shot and killed near Thomas Circle last Thursday, was buried yesterday in Arlington Cemetery after one of the largest police funerals ever seen in Washington.

A caravan three miles long followed the hearse carrying Donovan’s body from Hysong’s Funeral Home, 13th and F Sts. NW, past the Second Precinct station house to Our Lady of Victory Church on MacArthur Blvd., and then to Arlington.

A Requiem Mass was said for Pvt. Donovan by the Tr. Rev. Msgr. Carl F. Hess, pastor of the church. Msgr. Hess said in the service that the life of a policeman was always in danger, but that Pvt. Donovan was prepared for God’s call.

More than 1000 law enforcement officers from every local jurisdiction and from Federal agencies joined the family in paying their last respects.

The funeral procession went past the Second Precinct station house, 6th St. and New York Ave. NW, to allow colleagues who could not go off duty to salute the casket of their dead colleague.

The procession was led by a police honor guard and a number of dignitaries, including Police Chief Robert V. Murray.
Pvt. Donovan, a veteran, was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 17, 1964, PAGE B6

Grand Jury Will Get Officer-Killing Case
A 36-year-old defector from the Albania Army was held for grand jury action on a murder charge yesterday by a coroner’s jury. The jury was probing the fatal shooting of a Second Precinct policeman a week ago yesterday.

The victim, Pvt. Martin I. Donovan, 28, died in Washington Hospital Center of a chest wound inflicted by a bullet fired from his own revolver in the encounter at Thomas Circle.

Witnesses yesterday said the gun was snatched from Donovan’s holster by Ndue F. Zefi, of 923 Massachusetts Ave NW, who had walked up and punched the policeman as he stood at a doorway on his beat in the 1100 block of 14th St. NW

Detectives testified that Zefi, who was subdued and disarmed by passers-by, had worked as a short order cook here since his discharge from the United States Army in which he had enlisted upon fleeing his native land.
Det. W. J. McLaughlin testified Zefi told him Donovan had “stared at him too hard,” that it angered him, and he hit him.

After that, Zefi remembered only hearing “boom, boom, boom,” McLaughlin said the defendant told him.
Nearest thing to a provocation for the attack on the officer was described at the inquest by a detective who said the manager of a nearby Peoples Drug Store branch had called on Donovan about two months before the shooting to remove Zefi from the store’s lunch counter where he had fallen asleep.

Investigators said they had been unable to learn of any other association the two men had before their fatal meeting
Det. Sam Wallace said Zefi listed among his grudges against policemen generally his recollections that they had always harassed him in Albania and in this country. He said also that the police had refused him a permit to open his own restaurant and had failed to recover a suitcase that had been stolen from him.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 12, 1964, PAGE B2
District Honors Two of Its Citizens For Heroism in Aiding Policeman
Two citizens who rushed to the aid of a fatally wounded policeman last month were honored yesterday for their heroism.
The District Commissioners paid tribute in a special ceremony to Hugh L. Cook, 46, of 1022 Marc dr., Falls Church, and William H. Watkins, 24, of 1820 California St. NW

They helped subdue a 36-year-old Albanian short order cook accused of shooting Second Precinct Policeman Martin I. Donovan in a scuffle July 8 just south of Thomas Circle on 14th St. NW

Donovan was killed by a bullet from his own gun.
Cook, a linotype operator on his way to get a bite to eat, helped wrestle the gun from the suspect. Ndue Frok Zefi, 35, while Watkins grabbed his left hand. Watkins had rushed out of a nearby restaurant where he is a cook.

Commissioner Walter N. Tobriner praised both Cook and Watkins for “their alertness and bravery” and presented them with Distinguished Service Awards.

Police Chief Robert V. Murray expressed his thanks for their “backbone and courage.” Pvt. Donovan’s father, Paul, was also on hand.

Cook replied by praising Pvt. Donovan. “He stayed with his man to the last,” Cook said of the slain officer.
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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 18, 1964, PAGE A3
Grand Jury Indicts Zefi In Policeman’s Slaying

Ndue F. Zefi, a short-order cook, was indicted yesterday by a District grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of a Washington policeman.

Zefi, 36, who lived at 923 Mass. Ave. NW, was charged with fatally shooting Second Precinct Pvt. Martin I. Donovan last July 9.

Police said Donovan was talking to a news vendor at 14th St. NW, near Thomas Circle when Zefi attacked him. Zefi tore Donovan’s pistol from the officer’s holster and several shots were fired, police said.

Donovan forced his assailant to the ground and passers-by held Zefi until police arrived. Donovan died shortly afterward at Washington Hospital Center. The officer left a wife, Elizabeth and a daughter, Teresa, 3. They live at 5473 Madison Way, Hyattsville.

An Albanian Army defector, Zefi was working as a cook here since his discharge from the U.S. Army, in which he had enlisted after fleeing his native land.

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NOTE: NO OTHER ARTICLES WERE FOUND CONCERNING THE TRIAL OR DISPOSITION OF THE CASE.
I SPOKE WITH RETIRED D.C. HOMICIDE DETECTIVE SAM WALLACE, WHO WORKED ON THIS CASE. SAM STATES THE SUSPECT WAS FOUND INSANE BEFORE THE TRIAL AND WAS COMMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETH’S HOSPITAL.