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LAPD Street Signs

Det. Lt. George Colison Howard
(Dec. 3, 1891 May 22, 1938)

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, May 22, 1938, Det. Lt. George C. Howard, 46, had finished his shift on the LAPD's crime prevention bureau. He left police headquarters and walked a short distance to the streetcar stop at 1st Street and Broadway, ready for the ride to his home at 6107 Garrison Drive.

At the same time, a few blocks south, a 66-year-old former LAPD officer, then private investigator and self-described inventor, left his office at 707 S. Broadway, and got on the streetcar at 7th Street. The passenger stood at the front of the car, near the motorman, and was blocking the passenger exit. The motorman asked the passenger to move away from the exit and sit down, but the passenger refused. He said he planned to ride the car to the end of the line, and then shoot the motorman.

The motorman and the passenger were in the midst of the discussion when Howard and several other police officers got on the streetcar at 1st Street. The streetcar continued north on Broadway, and the motorman and the passenger continued their increasingly heated discussion.

Eventually, as Howard overheard the conversation and the motorman's pleas to the passenger to take a seat, Howard approached the passenger, and told him to sit down and stop bothering the motorman, which the passenger finally did.

When the streetcar stopped at North Broadway and Bishops Road, Howard got off, and the passenger followed him. Shortly after exiting the streetcar, the passenger walked up behind Howard, pulled an automatic pistol from his pocket, and shot Howard three times at point-blank range, including once in the head. Three police officers jumped off the streetcar, disarmed the passenger, and arrested him.

Howard was born Dec. 3, 1891, in Lake Land, Md., and grew up in Virginia, where he eventually worked as a clerk for the E.I. duPont de Nemours Co. In August 1922, Howard married Nellie Kay McElroy, and the couple moved to Los Angeles. Their son, Jack Howard, was born on Sept. 1, 1924.

Howard joined the LAPD on Feb. 17, 1927, and had been working in the crime prevention bureau since 1929.

After the shooting, Howard was taken to the Georgia Receiving Hospital, where he died 15 hours later, at about 3 p.m., with his wife and 13-year-old son at his bedside.

The man who shot Howard told police investigators that he was having a pleasant conversation with the motorman when Howard angrily ordered him back to his seat. When he got off the streetcar with Howard, the man said he saw a flash of light and thought he was being attacked, so he drew his pistol and fired, but he didn't remember shooting at Howard. He also told police that he had brain surgery a few years earlier, and had recently been released from the National Military Home at Sawtelle following a year-long illness.

The gunman was charged with murder but, at a sanity hearing before his trial, a judge ruled that he was insane and sent him to the Mendocino State Hospital for the Insane in Ukiah, Calif. According to the judge's ruling, the gunman would remain at the hospital until it was determined that he had recovered his sanity, and he would then face the murder charges. That never happened, and the man died in 1946.

Howard, who served three years in the U.S. Navy prior to World War I, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Howard's sign is on the east side of North Broadway, at Bishops Road.

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