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

Age: 35
Served: 1 year, 2 months
Badge #:
Panel 63W, Line 7
Panel L27, Line 9

Incident Details

Cause of Death:
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:
Incident Township:
Weapon Used:
.45-caliber handgun
Suspect Disposition:
• Executed in 1949
• Executed in 1949
Burial Place:
Saint John Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Hammond

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   Patrolman John Gerka was training two rookie officers when they investigated 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. 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.

   Patrolman Gerka was transported to St. Margaret Hospital where he died of a severed spinal cord.

   A manhunt failed to locate the suspects, who were in a stolen vehicle when stopped, until Hammond detectives arrested them some time later.

   The 36- and 48-year-old suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to death in a change of venue to Jasper County. On February 23, 1949, both men were executed by electrocution at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.

   Patrolman Gerka was single and survived by his parents and three brothers.

Military Service

United States Army
World War II
Corporal (CPL) ▪ 1941–1945

Historical Note

• This incident was one of 24 which resulted in the line of duty deaths of two officers.

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Hammond Police Department

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Patrolman John Joseph Gerka Jr.- Hammond Police Department -