One November 29, 1930, three police officers were shot and killed near the southwest corner of the town square.

Police car used in the shooting of police officers J. Edward Whittlesey, Albert Links, and Ernest P. Bowman.
Police car involved in the shooting of police officers J. Edward Whittlesey, Albert Links, and Ernest P. Bowman.

The killer was a burglar and car thief from Canton, Illinois, named Edwin Vrell. While the suspect was being transported in a police car just outside of the Macomb Police Headquarters, he pulled a gun that was hidden in his coat and mortally wounded three officers. He was subsequently killed trying to escape in the police car. “Their funerals were among the largest that Macomb had ever seen, and they were praised as heroes by the mayor and city council,” said historian John Hallwas.

A newspaper account describes the shooting incident, “…As the car came to a halt headed south in front of the police station the bandit pulled his gun.  Whether he got it from his sleeve as some reports say or drew it from his raincoat pocket will never be known.  In any event he had it free and had sent a bullet into (Officer) Bowman beside him, before Bowman could draw his gun.

The next bullet went to (Officer) Whittlesey who had just stepped out of the car.  Whittlesey fell with a bullet crashed through his head slightly below his left eye.  Another Bullet went to Whittlesey, hitting him in the shoulder and the next one to Links, who after getting out of the car was at the edge of the curbstone.

By the time Jackson had run from the police station and engaged the gunman in battle.  Several shots were fired between them, one of them from the murderer piercing Jackson’s hand and another clipping a button from his coat.

The bandit, as he drove away to the south, fired again after Jackson had emptied his own gun.”

Note: There is a memorial by the flag pole in front of the Macomb Police Station located at 120 South McArthur Street, in Macomb, Illinois.  Group tours of the police station’s collection of historical documents and equipment is available; contacting the station at (309) 833-4505.