January 5, 1911: Duluth police officer shot and killed by “boy bandits”

On this day in Duluth in 1911, officer Harry Chessmore, 25, was shot and killed by William Melodrowski on a streetcar headed to police headquarters. Chessmore and other officers had arrested Melodrowski, 15, and his companion, Agot Johnson, also 15, on Garfield Avenue. The pair were suspected of tying and gagging Clarence Stubsted and Charles Firovid, night clerk porters of the McKay Hotel on West First Street, and robbing the hotel cash register of $65 at 3:30 a.m. Chessmore encountered the pair on the Garfield Avenue viaduct at 6:30 a.m. as they were headed to Superior. He arrested the pair and boarded a streetcar with his prisoners for a trip to police headquarters at Superior Street and Second Avenue East. As the car approached downtown, Melodrowski “whipped a revolver out of his overcoat pocket and emptied it at the policeman. The first, third and fourth shots went wild, but the second bullet hit Chessmore in the chest…the fifth took affect in the center of the wounded man’s head.” Captain Anthony Fiskett led four other officers on a hunt for Melodrowski and Johnson. Acting on a tip, Fiskett and the others travelled 22 miles to the logging headquarters of the Cloquet Lumber Company. They found both boys wrapped snuggly in beds—and packing revolvers. They gave up without a struggle. Melodrowski and Johnson were tried separately and both were found guilty; Melodrowski was sentenced to life in prison; Johnson got 30 years.

Duluth Police Department badges introduced September 9, 1915. (Image: Zenith City Press)