Patrolman
John Joseph Gerka Jr.
Hammond Police Department
Saturday, January 11, 1947

Age: 35
Served: 1 year, 2 months
Badge #:
Military Service: U.S. Army
• World War II
Panel 63W, Line 7
Panel L27, Line 9

Incident Details

Cause of Death:
Gunfire
Date/Time of Incident:
Saturday, January 11, 1947
09:00 pm
Incident to Death Duration:
Same day
Incident Location:
Cleveland Street at Hohman Avenue, Hammond
Incident County:
Lake
Incident Township:
North
Weapon Used:
.45-caliber handgun
Suspect Info:
Executed in 1949
Burial Location:
Saint John Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Hammond

   Patrolman John Gerka was training two rookie officers when he went to investigate a suspicious car parked near Kenwood School.

   As Patrolman Gerka walked to the side of the auto, a man leaned out and shot him at point-blank range, hitting him in the heart. One of the rookies, Patrolman Donald Cook, was also shot and died two days later. The second rookie disarmed the shooter by wrestling his pistol from him, but was struck on the head by a second man and knocked to the ground.

   A manhunt combed the area, then the state, looking for both suspects who were in a stolen vehicle when stopped. Some time later, Hammond detectives arrested two suspects for the crimes. Both suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On February 23, 1949, both men were executed by electrocution.