Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Belated Tribute to Heroic Officer

A Belated Tribute to Heroic Officer

July 23, 1907
Los Angeles

John Conroy, a career criminal, planned his work carefully: He would wait until 10 p.m., pry open the skylight of J.C. Fleming’s jewelry store at 531 S. Broadway, climb down a rope and help himself to whatever he wanted.

But Conroy didn’t know that along with putting alarms on the front and back doors, A.D.T. security service, 118 W. 3rd St., had put a sensor on the skylight as well.  As soon as the circuit was broken, supervisor J.P. Quinn called police while he sent Herbert Johnson to watch the store.

In panic, Conroy struggled to escape, first by the front door and then by the back, but he couldn’t get either one open. The police arrived and people gathered on Broadway to watch, until the crowd was so large that it blocked the streetcars.

Officer Walter H. Osterloh climbed to the roof and slid down the rope even though witnesses in the crowd said Conroy had two guns.

“Conroy could be seen from the street rushing around in his excitement to escape,” The Times said. “The crowd cheered and then there was silence until Osterloh grabbed his man, who was standing on the north side of the store near the back room.”

Former Police Officer Walter H. Osterloh died in 1935 at the age of 53.

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