One Suspect Shot In Dope Pickups
By William B. Treml
(News Police Reporter)
A robbery suspect was shot with his own gun, his two companions were captured and Ann Arbor police confiscated more than $6,000 worth of stolen narcotics early this morning.
Police Chief Walter E. Krasny called the arrests and recovery of the stolen narcotics "...alert, determined police work... a real credit to those officers involved."
The chief gave this account of the incident:
About 2:30 a.m. today three men pounded on a locked door of the new Jackson County Medical Care Center on Lansing Ave. just outside the city limits of Jackson. The center is used as a county hospital and houses elderly medical patients.
A night watchman, Orville Fitzgerald, 57, of Spring Arbor, near Jackson, opened the door and was faced with two drawn guns held by the men.
The men ordered Fitzgerald inside, threatened him with the guns and then took his wallet and his wrist watch. They tied him up with lengths of plastic clothesline rope and took from his keys to closets containing narcotic drugs used in the hospital.
The men used the keys to open a half-dozen closets and took bottles containing more than 10,000 capsules of narcotic drugs. Krasny said the drugs could bring more than $6,000 on the black market.
The men carried the narcotics to a 1955-model car parked outside the hospital and sped from the scene.
Fitzgerald freed himself of his bonds about 15 minutes after they left and called police.
The Michigan State Police post at Jackson immediately set up a blockade for the bandits in a three-county area and both the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department joined in the blockade action.
Shortly after 3 a.m., a car resembling the description of the car used by the bandits raced past a blockade point on I-94 near the west city limits of Ann Arbor and shot down an exit ramp leading into the city.
It sped eastward on Jackson Ave. past a westbound city police car driven by Patrolman Lloyd O. Stearns. The 29-year-old officer recognized the car as similar to the vehicle described in the Jackson robbery. He U-turned his cruiser in the road and set out in pursuit of the car.
After a chase of about two miles, Stearns was able to pull alongside the car and forced it to the curb.
As he walked up to the car a man seated beside the driver, later identified as Cornell Moore, 22, of Jackson held a gun beneath his coat and pointed it toward the approaching patrolman. The driver of the car, James A. Calhoun, 32, of Lansing, at the same time leaned as far back in his seat as possible, giving Moore a clear view of Stearns.
The officer stopped, stepped back and demanded Calhoun's driver's license, Stearns continued to question him, keeping a close watch on Moore and a second passenger, James E. Connors, 29, of Jackson, who was in the rear seat of the car.
At that point Patrolman Harold Tinsey, who had heard Stearns' radio call that he was stopping a suspicious car, arrived on the scene in his scout car. Moments later Uniformed Sgt. Robert C. Conn and Patrolman Byrl Racine, had been on a road blockade assignment, came up behind Officer Tinsey.
Calhoun, Moore and Connors were ordered out of the car and were told by Sgt. Conn they were under arrest for robbery. They were placed against their car to be searched. Connors kept attempting to turn around and was protesting loudly about the arrest.
Patrolman Racine felt an object inside Connors' shirt when he pushed him up against the car. The officer reached inside the shirt and pulled out a loaded.38 caliber snub-nosed revolver.
Racine handed the gun to Sgt. conn who immediately told Connors he was under arrest for carrying a concealed weapon.
Connors suddenly whirled and began running south on Ninth St.
All four officers shouted for him to halt but he continued to run. Tinsey and Racine pulled out their service revolvers and fired single shots at the fleeing figure. He continued his flight and Conn, holding the .38 caliber gun taken from Connors, leveled the pistol and fired three times.
One of the three shots struck Connors between the shoulder blades. He cried out, slowed down but trotted a half dozen more steps along the sidewalk. Then he ran into a tree, staggered off it and fell to the ground near a garage.
While Moore and Calhoun were kept against their car under the guns of Stearns and Tinsey, Conn and Racine raced where Connors had fallen.
An ambulance was called to the scene for Connors and Moore and Calhoun were taken by police headquarters by other officers.
A search of the car in which the trio had been riding revealed what Detective Sgt. Calvin hicks called a "fantastic array" of narcotic drugs.
"They must have taken every capsule and narcotic pill in that Jackson hospital," Sgt. Hicks said. "It was enough for a small drug store."
Chief Krasny said the drugs found hidden in the car have been identified as those stolen in the robbery of the Jackson hospital.
Officers searching the car also found a .9 millimeter automatic pistol under the front seat of the vehicle. Krasny said that apparently was the gun which Moore had concealed under his coat which he was pointing toward Patrolman Stearns. The chief said Moore slipped the loaded automatic out of his coat and under the seat when he and his two companions were ordered out of the car.
The loot taken from the Jackson hospital and found in the car driven by Calhoun included 4,000 capsules of Seconal which sell for about 50 cents each, 500 capsules of amytal sodium, two bottles containing 1,000 capsules of a drug with the trade name of Tunal which has a narcotic base, and a bottle containing 3,000 capsules of phenobarbital. In addition, the car yielded a dozen other bottles of various pharmaceutical narcotics and a bottle of adrenalin, all of which bore labels indicating they came from the Jackson hospital.
Police said the bullet which struck Connors entered between his shoulder blades, was deflected by his collar bone, and burrowed upward, lodging under his right cheek bone. he was reported in "serious" condition at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital where police said he had refused to permit doctors to treat him.
Officers said all three suspects are being held for Jackson authorities on armed robbery charges.
City Administrator Guy C. Larcom Jr. said the arrests were "excellent police work" and he commended the officers for their action.
"Law enforcement is a difficult field and in this incident these officers acquitted themself well." Larcom said.
Patrolman Stearns three weeks ago was a key figure in the wounding and capture of an Ypsilanti teen-ager who led police on a wild chase through city streets in a stolen car. Stearns was knocked out of his patrol car when the youth's car hit the police vehicle but the officer scrambled up and fired at the fleeing suspect.
Stearns was hospitalized briefly for injuries received when thrown from the patrol car.
Confiscated Narcotics, Guns Checked
These four Ann Arbor police officers played key roles in the apprehension of three robbery suspects and the recovery of pharmaceutical narcotics estimated to be worth $6,000.Sgt. Robert C. Conn, seated, wounded one of the suspects with the gun held by Patrolman Lloyd O. Stearns, right, who stopped the car in which the trio was riding. Patrolman Harold Tinsey, left, and Byrl Racine, holding bottles of capsules found in the car, took shots at the fleeing suspect. Sgt. Conn holds an automatic pistol, one of two guns taken from men.
William B. Treml
Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
Michigan State Police
Jackson County Medical Care Center
Ann Arbor Police Department
Ann Arbor News
Walter E. Krasny
Robert C. Conn
Lloyd O. Stearns
James E. Connors
James A. Calhoun
Harold C. Tinsey
Guy C. Larcom Jr.
William B. Treml