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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 27, 1922

Patrolman Subdues Fugitive in a Tenement After Exciting Race Through Chinatown.


One of Three in Brooklyn Jewelry Store Hold-Up Caught Within an Hour and Confesses.

One of three robbers who yesterday afternoon held up the proprietor of a South Brooklyn jewelry store and escaped in an automobile with $200 in gems was captured within an hour.  He had led three policemen in commandeered automobiles an exciting chase across Manhattan Bridge and through the labyrinthian thoroughfares of Chinatown.

During the pursuit Policeman Thomas Mitchell of the Traffic Division was hurt when the car in which he was riding overturned at Baxter and Bayard Streets, but two other policemen, in separate cars, held to the trail of the fleeing automobile until Policeman Walter Graham of the Traffic Division caught and subdued the fugitive on the top floor of a tenement at 7 Mott Street.

The prisoner was hurried to Police Headquarters, where, after he had been fingerprinted, Inspector Coughlin announced that he had been identified as Charles Burke, 23, of 1,051 Castleton Avenue, West New Brighton, S. I.  Inspector Coughlin said that Burke's criminal record showed that in 1918 he was sent to Elmira Reformatory and that nine months ago he was released from Sing Sing, where he was sent in 1920 in connection with a hold-up at Madison Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street.

Find Pistol in the Car.

The police also announced that search of the car in which Burke rode revealed a .38-calibre pistol, which Burke was alleged to have admitted was used an hour before in the hold-up of Simon Gold in his jewelry store at 5,515 Third Avenue, Brooklyn.  Examination of the police records showed that the automobile was stolen last Sunday morning from the premises of an automobile dealer in West New Brighton.

The arrest was due to the vigilance of Policeman Alvin Tourette of the Bridge Squad, who recognized the license number on the car after he had received a general alarm over the telephone from the Fourth Avenue Station in Brooklyn.  The alarm stated that three men who held up Gold in his store had fled in the direction of the bridge, with three diamond rings which they had taken from a showcase after one of the robbers had backed the jeweler into a rear room with a pistol.

Tourette was standing in the centre of the bridge when he saw a car answering the description, with one man in it, coming toward him at a rapid pace. He stepped back into a crevice in the steelwork of the bridge, and as the car shot by he looked for the number.  Recognizing it as the bandit car the policeman jumped on the running board of a car following close behind and ordered the chauffeur to go full speed.

When Burke saw that he was pursued, however, he stepped on the gas and sent the car into the maze of traffic at the Bowery and Canal Street.  Policeman Tourette, in the meantime, had drawn his pistol and was trying to get a shot at the fugitive between blasts of his police whistle.

Policemen Graham and Mitchell were regulating traffic at the Bowery entrance to the bridge when Burke shot by in his car, and it was not until Burke had gone half a block on the Bowery before the two traffic policemen heard the whistle and saw Policeman Tourette standing up in the tonneau of his car frantically motioning to them to capture Burke.

Three Policemen in Chase.

Graham jumped into a large touring car which was going at a leisurely pace down the Bowery and ordered the driver to overtake Burke.  Policeman Mitchell had some difficulty in obtaining a car, but finally found one owned by Bade Brothers standing in front of their place at 84 Bowery.  The policeman jumped in and told Henry De Long, the chauffeur, to follow the cars commandeered by Policemen Tourette and Graham, who by that time were turning west into Bayard Street from the Bowery.

When Mitchell reached Bayard and Baxter Streets he saw Burke's car with those of the other policemen some distance behind make a sharp turn south on Mott Street.  Figuring that the fugitive might attempt to get back to the Bowery, Mitchell ordered De Long to turn south on Baxter Street.  In his excitement the chauffeur turned his car too short, and it toppled over with its two occupants underneath.  De Long managed to escape injury, but the body of the vehicle fell on the policeman's legs and held him until passers-by rescued both men.  Then the policeman staggered on in the direction of the chase.

Burke had turned his car in and out of the narrow streets in Chinatown and seemingly had shaken off his pursuers when he drew up to the door of 7 Mott Street.  As he sprang into the hallway of the building, however, Policeman Graham came along in his car.  The policeman, pistol in hand, raced up the stairs to the fourth floor, where he found Burke attempting to gain access to an apartment.  A few blows of the policeman's pistol subdued him.

Admits Helping in Robbery.

Burke readily admitted his identity when questioned by Inspector Coughlin and shown his picture in the Rogues' Gallery.  He also admitted that he participated in the robbery of the Brooklyn jeweler, but denied that he obtained any of the loot.  He declared that he sat in the car with the engine going while the two other men held up Mr. Gold.  He also admitted that he stole the car last Sunday, and that the hold-up was planned on Christmas day while the three robbers were passing the store in the stolen car.

The jeweler told the police that he was standing behind the counter when two of the robbers entered and ordered him to throw up his hands.  One of them placed a pistol to his head, he said, and ordered him to the rear room, while the other walked behind the counter and took three diamond rings from a tray.  The robbers evidently became frightened for they bolted for the door before the man behind the counter could gather up other jewelry in the showcase.

As the two robbers reached the sidewalk, Gold said, he noticed a third man standing near the door, who bolted the door to prevent pursuit and then all three jumped into the automobile in which they had driven to the place.  The jeweler said that he did not give an alarm for fully five minutes after the robbers had gone, because about two years ago he was shot and dangerously wounded when he attempted to cause the arrest of three men who held him up.  All three later were sent to prison, he said.

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