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Officer Patrick Henry Lyons
(May 1887 – Nov. 30, 1907)

Patrick Henry Lyons worked as a special patrolman for the LAPD before he was officially hired as a member of the department in August 1907. Three months later, he was killed, shot to death when he interrupted an armed robbery at a winery on South Central Avenue, the second LAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Lyons was born in May 1877 in Stockholm, New York, near the Canadian border. He was the youngest of five children born to Irish immigrants Patrick and Anna Crowley Lyons. Lyons' father died in late 1876, before Lyons was born.

In 1904, Lyons moved to Los Angeles, where he first worked as a conductor on the L.A. Inter-Urban Railway. He started working as a special patrolman for the LAPD in 1906 and, on Aug. 20, 1907, he was named an official member of the department, assigned to the University Division.

On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 30, 1907, Lyons was walking his beat along South Central Avenue. A few blocks north, at about 10 p.m., two armed men wearing handkerchiefs over their faces walked into a grocery store at 811 S. Central Ave., and demanded the money in the cash register. When the store proprietor's daughter screamed and said there were two police officers outside the store, the two masked men fled.

They jumped into the grocer's horse-drawn delivery wagon, and headed south on Central Avenue. At about 12th Street, the wagon collided with a parked streetcar and overturned, and one of the would-be bandits lost his gun.

The two men continued south, again covered their faces with handkerchiefs, and entered the Magnolia Winery, at 1404 S. Central Ave., just before 11 p.m., where the owner was counting the day’s receipts. The men took about $20, and were backing out of the store, one with his gun pointed at the owner, just as Lyons was walking along Central Avenue, in front of Fire Station No. 3, directly across the street from the winery.

Lyons saw the two men backing out of the winery and headed toward them. He drew his gun, ordered the two men to stop, and told them to stand against the front of the winery with their hands up. As Lyons was searching the first man, the second man reached into his pocket, pulled out his revolver and shot the officer in the head, just above his left eye.

Lyons collapsed, the two men ran off down 14th Street, and firefighters carried Lyons to the fire station across the street. Lyons was taken to the Central Receiving Hospital on First Street, where he died following surgery.

After Lyons was killed, in an effort to prevent future attacks on officers and help control the rising crime rate in the city, the LAPD issued an order to all officers: "If you meet a masked man on the streets, shoot him."

"If such an order had been in force Saturday night," the L.A. Times wrote in an editorial, "and had it been obeyed by Patrolman Lyons, the State would have been saved the expense of prosecuting (his killer), who fired the fatal shot, and Lyons would still be serving the city. The very courage of the unfortunate officer cost him his life."

The firefighters and other witnesses provided a description of the two men, and they were quickly arrested. In January 1908, Lyons' 20-year-old killer was found guilty of first-degree murder, and sentenced to death at San Quentin State Prison. Before the sentence could be carried out, however, he died in prison on Jan. 25, 1909, three months after he attempted suicide by jumping from the roof of a three-story building, which left him with a broken back. His accomplice was also found guilty of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Funeral services were held for Lyons in Los Angeles before his body was sent back to his hometown in New York for burial. Lyons' mother came to Chicago to meet the train carrying her son's body.

As he did for Clyde May, the first LAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty, Capt. Walter Auble also served as a pallbearer for Patrick Lyons. Less than a year later, Auble became the third member of the LAPD to be killed in the line of duty.

Lyons' sign is located on the southeast corner of South Central Avenue and East 14th Street, directly in front the iconic ship-shaped Coca-Cola Bottling Plant building, and across the street from the former Fire Station No. 3, which today is the African American Firefighters Museum.

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