THESE ARTICLES TELL OF THE 1889 DEATH OF OFFICER AMERICUS N. CRIPPEN WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ARREST A SHOOTING SUSPECT, AND THE RIOT THAT FOLLOWED.
George Bush, a Rough Shoots and Instantly Kills Policeman Crippen.
The Officers Last Act was to Fire Shots at the Murderer Who is Also in a Dying Condition.
IT WAS ALMOST A TRIPLE TRAGEDY
The Affair Originated in a Notorious Resort Kept by Steve Wall at the Corner of Eleventh and Q streets—After Shooting Osborne Basey, Bush Endeavors to Escape But is Cornered by the Brave Officer in a Little Room—The Bullet From the Suspects Pistol Lodges in the Policeman’s Brain and He Drops Dead in a Doorway—He Had Only Been on the Force for the Past Three Months.
Steve Wall’s saloon is a little frame shanny on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Q streets northwest, and is a well known resort for sports. By 10 o’clock last night the scene in the pool room connected with the establishment was a noisy one. The little room was crowded with toughs, and the air was filled with exclamations of disgust at some badly played shot, and loud laughter followed the narration of some coarse jest.
The hands of the clock marked the hour of 10:30 when the door was pushed open and Osborne Basey, a boy nineteen years of age, walked in with a swagger. His first words were addressed a subject of about his own age, who was playing pool.
“Well, do you want to shoot me?” said Basey. “I hear you said you were going to.” The man made no reply, and Basey then exchanged greetings with C. R. Davis, a young boy about his own age. He lounged about the room a few minutes, laughing and jesting, when a man, whose name has not as yet been learned, came in the door and calling to Basey, said: “Come outside, somebody wants to see you.” With a smile on his face and a jest on his lips Basey went to his death.
Just as he steeped on the pavement he was confronted by George Bush, with whom he had had a difficulty on Sunday, and whom he had worsted in the encounter. Then Bush drew back a step and hissed rather than said: “You did me up the other night, I’ll kill you now.”
Saying this, Bush pulled his revolver, a 38 caliber, self-cocking weapon, and began firing. Four shots rang out on the frosty night air and startled Officer Anthony (wrong) N. Crippen, who was at the patrol box at the corner of Twelfth and Q. He started towards the spot and Special Officer Davis ran from the opposite corner. The murderer began his race to death. He ran between the officers, holding his still smoking weapon in his hand and reloading as he ran. He ran into Bob Brown’s saloon, at the northwest corner of Twelfth and Q streets, and darted up a little narrow passage way.
The officer was not far behind. He, too, drew his pistol and went up the steps to his doom. The murderer entered a little stuffy box of a room on the second floor, and just as the officer entered the room Bush fired. The bullet struck the officer full in the chest, and he staggered back, but it was only for a moment. In less than a second two more shots rang out and both of them took effect, one through the suspects right lung and the other through his liver.
In the melee the lamp was overturned and the suspect attempted to escape through the open door. He advanced towards the officer, with pistol outstretched, and just as he was about to fire again Crippen grasped the pistol around the muzzle. Before he could knock it up though, it went off and the bullet sped on its fatal mission. It struck the officer just in the corner of his right eye and penetrated the brain, causing almost instant death.
The officer fell to the floor. The suspect reached the entrance and fell in the hallway.
In the meantime the call had been sent to the station, and in a very few minutes the patrol wagon from the Second precinct with the reserves from the station, with Sergeant Jones in charge, arrived. The officers forced their way upstairs and there the ghastly spectacle greeted their eyes. With the blood steaming from his eye, mouth, and breast, and his hand in a pool of blood, grasping a smoke stained revolver, lay their brother officer dead. A brief examination showed him beyond any earthly hope, and then they turned their attention to the cowering, groaning wretch in the hallway. He was barely alive, and they gathered him up and carried him to the patrol wagon.
In the meantime Basey had been taken to the drug store on the opposite corner, where a superficial examination showed that he had been shot in the shoulder, and a more serious wound through the side. The two gunshot cases were taken to Freedman’s Hospital, where their wounds were dressed by Doctors Shad and McGlennan.
As soon as they were placed upon cots their shirt fronts were torn open. The search for the wounds was of short duration. A small clean cut hole, large enough to insert one’s little finger, and from which the blood was pouring out in a dark, red stream, marked only too clearly where one of the bullets had found its mark in Bush’s body. A little further down another hole was found. This was just at the lower edge of the liver, and the ball had passed entirely through the body, lodging just beneath the skin of the back. The first bullet had perforated the right lung, and blood gushed in a copious stream from the mans mouth, so as to render speech well nigh impossible. The man was also bleeding internally, and seemed to be in considerable pain, but bore it without flinching, scarcely a murmur escaping his lips.
Osborne Basey lay on a cot in a little room only a short distance from his would-be murderer. By his bedside was C.K. Dawes, the friend who had been in Wall’s when Basey first entered that resort.
Basey had also been shot twice. The more serious wound was that through his right lung, while the other was in his shoulder. Like Bush he was in great agony, but, unlike the murderer, was unable to bear his pain in silence. Groans broke from his lips at frequent intervals and he often cried out: “Oh, my God, how I suffer.” “Oh God, have mercy on me and don’t let me die.” Basey was also bleeding internally, and lingered until 3:30 o’clock this morning when he died.
The death of Bush is, in the opinion of Dr. Shad, only a question of a few hours. “It is impossible,” said the physician, “for a man to live after having been wounded as Bush is.”
One peculiar thing about the affair is each of the three men received two wounds and all received a wound in the right lung. The bullet hole which marked the breast of Bush found a counterpart on the body of Officer Crippen; both men having been shot in the same part of the breast.
The men concerned in the shootings are well-known to the police. Basey has quite a criminal record. He has served several terms for shooting and cutting, and is now under indictment for shooting Tobe Parker. He is only nineteen years of age, but ever since he was a boy has made trouble for the police.
Of Bush, the murderer, little is known. He bears a reputation among his companions as being a man who would use a gun on the slightest provocation. He is about twenty years of age and a tall person. It is not known where the men reside, and the officers say neither has either a home or an occupation, but spend their time around Wall’s in gambling when not engaged in some disreputable and crooked work to gain the money to play with.
Officer Crippen is from Fairfax county, Va., but had lived here for some years. He had only been on the force for about three months, but was considered one of the bravest officers who ever handled a baton. Formally he was a bill poster, and worked for Moxley on Tenth street. He was about forty years of age, tall and slender, with light hair and light mustache, and well and favorably known throughout the city.
The station was crowded last night with his friends who had heard of the affair and called to see him. He was a single man and his only relative was his aged father who lives in Virginia. His body is still at the station house.
His beat was one of the worst in the city and is in the heart of “Hell’s Bottom.” Fighting is a nightly occurrence and the neighborhood is infested with a lot of subjects, who, when they are not in jail are drinking and fighting. Wall’s saloon is a notorious resort and is kept by Steve Wall, a son of Squire O.S.B. Wall.
Two ladies who witnessed the shooting were considerably agitated, and long after the murderer and his victims had been removed, they walked the streets with their friends and declared they could not sleep.
This is second time in the past six years an officer has been killed in the discharge of his duty by a tough. Last night’s tragedy recalled the murder of Officer Fowler by the subject Langster, who was subsequently hung for his crime.
**** POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 7, 1889, PAGE 6
ALL THREE NOW DEA
George Bush, the Double Murderer, Lived but a Short Time
A girl was Arrested Yesterday, but the Police are Satisfied that She Had No Active Part in the Tragedy—Crippen’s Bravery Eulogized
George Bush, the author of the terrible tragedy at Wall’s saloon, corner of Eleventh and Q streets northwest, on Tuesday, in which brave Officer Crippen lost his life, died yesterday morning at 8 o’clock at Freedman’s Hospital. His body, together with that of his other victim. Osborne Basey, was removed to the morgue, where they were both examined by the coroner.
The body of Officer Crippen was taken to Spear’s undertaking establishment and prepared for burial to-morrow. Funeral services will be held at Spear’s this afternoon, and the remains will then be escorted by a detachment of police to the Baltimore and Potomac depot and sent to the former home of the deceased at Dranesville, Va.
Officer Crippen’s death was formally announced to the police department by Major Moore yesterday in the following order, in which the major gives the necessary instructions regarding the funeral:
Headquarters Met. Police
Washington D.C., Nov. 6, 1889.
General Orders, No.423
The death of Private A.N. Crippen is announced to the department with sincere regret. He was appointed upon the force July 19, 1889; his brief service ended with his murder last evening at 10 o’clock. He met death fearlessly, in the discharge of duty, and although mortally hurt, faced the ruffian and inflicted upon him, in return, wounds which this morning terminated fatally.
In respect to his memory, and in recognition of his brave conduct in the attempt to arrest a desperate character, an escort of two sergeants and twenty-four privates, under command of Lieut. J. F. Heffner, will accompany the remains to the B. And P. Depot to-morrow afternoon at 8 o’clock.
Cat. M.A. Austin will make the necessary detail, to report at the Second precinct station tomorrow at 2 o’clock p.m.
Wm. G. Moore, Major and Supt. Met. Police
There were no facts discovered yesterday regarding the tragedy other than those stated in yesterday’s Post, and as all the parties are dead, Coroner Patterson will not hold an inquest, but will let the friends of the dead men take charge of the remains. It was thought by the police on Tuesday night that a girl named Rosie Briscoe had been the cause of the trouble between Bush and Basey, and had possibly urged Bush to shoot the others. A search was made for Rosie immediately after the tragedy had occurred , but she could not be found.
Yesterday morning, however, she appeared at the Second precinct station-house and inquired for Bush. She was arrested at once, but after being questioned closely was released again. The girl had doubtless been the cause of some trouble between the two men, but that she knew nothing of Bush’s intentions when he went armed to Wall’s saloon, and called Basey out to kill him, the police are now satisfied.
BELOW ARE EXCERPTS FROM A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 29, 1911, PAGE MT4. (THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN TWENTY-TWO YEARS AFTER OFFICER CRIPPEN’S MURDER AND WAS EDITED BY ME TO REMOVE LENGTHY INFORMATION ALREADY COVERED IN THE ABOVE ARTICLES.
The Heroic Case of Policeman Crippen
There is probably no other city in the United States where may be found in the police records more interesting stories of crime than in Washington. From the old days, when watchmen patrolled the streets “with a long staff and heavy lantern, to the present, when a policeman is armed with the deadliest weapon known to modern science, there have been many notable happenings.
Washington, like all other cities, had its dark days. Precincts were overrun with criminals who had little or no regard for man or law. Daring burglaries and holdups, assaults and murders were frequent, and nightly riotous gatherings and carousals required the attention of the police. The force was small, and there is scarcely a survivor of the old guard who cannot tell interesting and picturesque experiences.
The average citizen thinks of the bluecoats only as a man privileged by his uniform to lead an easy life, but the records of the department show only too clearly the sterner side of the policeman’s existence.
Risk Lives for Duty
Whether called upon to place under arrest a common “drunk and disorderly” or the most hardened criminal, he is always ready, and is never known to flinch in the execution of the orders given him. It is possible to tell of many cases where members of the police force thus lost their lives. In each is written the story of devotion to duty no less than in the case of the soldier on the firing line
In the roll of names of officers who have thus met their death there is probably not one more cherished or extolled than that of Patrolman Americus N. Crippen, who 23 years ago was killed while attempting to arrest a murderer. (LENGTHY DETAILS WERE DELETED AT THIS POINT)
Race War Threatened
With the fury that only a crowd raised to the highest pitch can know, there followed upon the news that Crippen had been murdered by Bush the cry of “Lynch them all!” Of the several thousand people massed in the street, a greater percentage were white, and it was only by fighting the crowd with clubs and drawn revolvers that the police were able to prevent violence being done ( to the black population).
In the riot that followed several persons were injured, and for weeks following the murder race feeling ran high. Additional outbreaks occurred when it was learned the suspect died at the hospital, and almost every precinct was given trouble for some time.
The body of the dead officer was removed to his home, from which a few days later the funeral was held. Attended by every member of the force that could be spared from their posts, officials of the police department and thousands of citizens of the District, it was an impressive occasion. The clergy united in extolling the character of the man who had lost his life, and resolutions as to his integrity and bravery were adopted by many organizations.
Thus runs the story of only one of the cases upon the police records where an officer gave up his life in the line of duty. Although 23 years have passed since that afternoon, the memory of the man is yet fresh, and veterans point to the younger members of the force their pride in his record. His bravery is held up as an example to be followed, and although Crippen is forgotten by the public, his memory still lives within the police organization.