Memorial to Gilbert M. Silvia

End of Watch: November 25, 1967
Rank: Detective-Sergeant   Badge No. 177
Age: 34   Years of Service: 11 years
Location of Death:  16th and Cocoran streets, NW
Duty Assignment:  Third Precinct Detectives, CID



On November 23, at 11:00 pm, plain-clothes Detective Sergeant Silvia approached an auto that had a broken-out vent window. As detective Silvia approached the door of the auto, he discovered that the vehicle was occupied. At the same moment, the suspect opened fire on Detective Silvia, striking him in the stomach. Detective Silvia died two days later from his injuries.


Detective Sergeant Silva had served the department 11 years, was married and had four children.


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


Detective Dies After Shooting
Metropolitan police Det. Sgt. Gilbert M. Silvia, shot while investigating an apparent stolen car attempt Thursday night, died early yesterday of a single bullet wound.

Silvia, 34, had never regained consciousness.

The 11-year police veteran died at 2:10 a.m. with the bullet still inside him. Doctors at the Washington Hospital Center had operated twice in efforts to save his life, but the bullet that entered his stomach had lodged in a precarious position alongside his spine.

Meanwhile, dozens of police pressed the search for his slayer, but they came up empty-handed. They are hunting a black, 25 years old, five-feet-eleven, 165 pounds, wearing a Julius Caesar haircut and a rust colored overcoat.

Silvia, the father of four children, was shot Thursday when he stepped out of his police cruiser to question a man sitting in a parked car at 16th and Corcoran Streets, NW

Police investigators said Silvia had noticed that the vent window of the parked car had been broken. He parked his unmarked cruiser near the other vehicle and had just started approaching it when he was shot. Silvia’s gun had not been drawn.

The search yesterday fanned out across the city. Police were conducting door-to-door searches in certain areas for the killer, and detectives were still searching alleys and garbage cans in the area of the shooting for a possible murder weapon.

In honor of Silvia, Inspector Joseph P. Peppler, ordered that flags at police buildings be flown at half-staff until after the Sergeant’s funeral.

Hero’s, Inc., an organization of area businessmen who assist survivors of policemen and firemen killed in the line of duty, gave a $1000 check to the Silvia family yesterday.

Suspect Jailed on Murder Charge In Slaying of D.C. Police Detective
A 28-year-old unemployed cook was arrested by Metropolitan police early yesterday and charged with the Thanksgiving night slaying of Det. Sgt. Gilbert M. Silvia.

Three homicide detectives arrested Lawrence E. Kearney in his first-floor apartment at 1442 Corcoran St. NW, at about 12:45 a.m. They said Kearney offered no resistance and greeted them with: “I give up–I give up.”
The arrest was made little more than a block from the scene of the shooting. It came about 23 hours after Sgt Silvia, 34, an 11-year veteran of the police department, died in Washington Hospital Center of a bullet wound in the stomach.
Kearney was arraigned early this morning in General Sessions Court and was ordered held without bond on a first-degree murder charge. He was confined to D.C. Jail pending trial.

Police said the suspect had lived at the Corcoran Street address for about a year. FBI records show that he has four felony convictions, one for housebreaking and three for auto theft. He served a four-year term from 1962 to 1966 on an auto theft conviction.

Kearney’s arrest followed a tip from an acquaintance in the neighborhood, police revealed. They said they are still searching for a possible accomplice but would reveal no details.

Sgt. Silvia, the father of four children and a “model officer”—to his fellow policemen in the Third Precinct, was shot down by a man in a parked car at 16th and Corcoran Streets NW, late Thursday.

A Homicide Squad investigation found that Silvia, on routine patrol, had noticed a man sitting in the car, which had a broken vent on the driver’s side. The Sergeant, in plain clothes, double-parked his unmarked squad car and had stepped out to question the man when he was shot.

Silvia had not radioed his location nor drawn his service revolver. Police said that, after being shot, he tried to crawl back to his cruiser to radio for help but collapsed on the way. The assailant escaped on foot.

High-ranking police officials were trying yesterday to arrange burial in Arlington Cemetery. Cemetery spokesman said the request would be considered.

The body is at Pumphrey’s Funeral Home, 8400 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. Mass and rosary will be said Wednesday morning at the Holy Redeemer Church, Saul Road and Summit Avenue, Kensington.


2 Officers Cited for Heroism
Citations of merit have been awarded to two Washington policemen, one of whom was shot to death while investigating a car theft; the other charged into a building after a flaming Molotov cocktail and threw it back outside.

Pvt. [Detective Sergeant] Gilbert M. Silvia was given the Police Department award posthumously after being shot last Nov. 23 at Corcoran and 16th Streets. Silvia, a plainclothesman, saw the men breaking into a car on 16th. He stopped and identified himself, police said, and as he approached, one man got out and shot him with a pistol. Silvia’s gun had not been drawn.

Pvt. Salvatore S. Petros was awarded the citation for helping prevent a fire and disturbance following the Nov. 17 shooting of an 18-year-old youth by a local merchant.

The youth, Robert J. Fletcher Jr., of 1810 Spring Rd. NW, was shot and killed in Kelley’s Market after he refused to leave the store and allegedly reached in his pocket and turned on the store owner.

Pvts. Petros and John W. Taylor were sent to the scene after a crowd of about 100 youths gathered in front of the store, at 639 Florida Ave. NW, to protect what police termed “a seemingly unjust killing.”

One of the youths threw a Molotov cocktail through the second-story window of a nearby building. Petros broke into the building, raced upstairs and threw the flaming bottle out the window.


Ex-Cook Draws 15 Years to Life In Police Slaying
Lawrence E. Kearney, a 28-year-old former cook convicted of the slaying of Det. Gilbert M. Silvia last Thanksgiving night, was sentenced yesterday to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder.

District Court Judge Leonard P. Walsh sentenced the defendant, who was found guilty at his trial last month. He also gave Kearney, of 1442 Corcoran St. NW, a second term, to be served concurrently, of three to ten years for carrying a dangerous weapon.

Silvia, 34, was making a routine patrol in an unmarked squad car when he spotted a man in a parked car on which the driver’s window vent was broken, court testimony held.

The plainclothesman approached the car, identified himself, then asked the man for his credentials. In response, Kearney pulled a pistol from his coat and shot Silvia in the stomach, according to the testimony of a government witness. Silvia died the following day.

Kearney escaped on foot but offered no resistance when homicide detectives arrested him in his apartment the next day.


Conviction Upheld in Police Death
The second-degree murder conviction of Lawrence E. Kearney, who shot Det. Sgt. Gilbert M. Silvia to death on Thanksgiving Day, 1967, was upheld yesterday by the U.S. District Court of Appeals.

Silvia, an 11-year veteran of the force, was killed as he approached a car parked at 16th and Corcoran Streets NW, flashlight in one hand and credentials in the other, to investigate a possible tampering.
Kearney, arrested later, was convicted in 1968 and sentenced to a prison term of 15 years to life.

On appeal, his lawyers argued that evidence against him had been improperly admitted at the trial and that they had been improperly restricted in the cross-examination of the chief prosecution witness.

Judge Harold Leventhal, who wrote the Court of Appeals opinion, Chief Judge David L. Bazelon and Judge Charles Fahy all voted to affirm the conviction.