St. Petersburg Shooting: History of St. Petersburg officers killed in the line of duty

5:04 PM, Jan 24, 2011   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, FL - Monday, January 24, 2011 two St. Petersburg Police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty. That brings the total number of officers killed within the department to 14.

According to the city of St. Petersburg's website, the first officer to die was the first Chief of Police James A. Mitchell who was killed in 1905.

On Christmas Day, 1905, Chief Mitchell arrested a local man for disorderly conduct behind a saloon on Central Avenue between Second and Third Streets. While escorting his prisoner to jail Mitchell was attacked, with a knife from behind, by a second man named John Thomas. The chief fell mortally wounded and the two suspects turned to flee. Officer Bill Murphy, who happened on the scene, saw what happened. He fired several shots at the suspects. One of these shots took off the tip of Thomas's nose. Thomas was incarcerated in the city's second floor jail.

When a crowd of citizens became impatient with the courts, they grew angry and demanded that the police turn Thomas over to them. When they were denied, the crowd became more agitated and began arming themselves. The four police officers were not able to cope with the dangerous crowd and soon the officers were overcome. The crowd brought ladders and several in the crowd climbed to the jail window with guns in hand and shot Thomas repeatedly.



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