Gangster Shot As Racketeers Open War Here

Police Stock Photo

Camden Courier-Post – April 29, 1929

Gloucester Man Near Death After Attack at Broadway and Kaighn Avenue

Felled Near Quarters of Camden Gamblers

Brother of Frank Doris Accused After Police Round up 10 Men

Shooting of an alleged racketeer at Broadway and Kaighn avenue, near the threshold of one of South Jersey’s notorious reputed gambling joints threw Camden police into renewed warfare on gangdom yesterday.

Like the shots that riddled Hughy McLoon, the dwarfed Philadelphia hunchback—shots that blew off the lid off Philadelphia vice and police corruption—those that echoed in the recognized rendezvous of Camden gangdom promised to have far-reaching effects.

The victim was Joseph Connors, 28, of 135 North Broadway, Gloucester, alleged beer racketeer. With a bullet in his lungs and another in his abdomen, he was conceded “an even chance” to live at West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital last night.

John Doris, 24, brother of Frank Doris, who died in the electric chair for murder during the Olney Bank holdup, is under arrest charged with the shooting.

A roundup by a special squad of detectives immediately following the shooting resulted in the arrest of 10 men, among them some well-known gangsters and racketeers. All were held in bail as material witnesses.

Those netted in the roundup and the bail demanded follow.

Russell Sage, 426 Mechanic street, several times suspected in Camden gang shootings, held without bail for trying to help Doris escape; James “Jimmie” Toland, former Philadelphia pugilist and now operator of the Nonpariel Club, $2500 bail; Joseph Simms, cook in the Nonpariel Club, $500 bail; Charles Riehm, 1051 Haddon avenue, manager of the club; William Kelly, alias Leo Morton, 425 Van Hook street, $500; Harry Selah, 1240 South Third street, a spectator who named Doris as the assailant, $500; William J. Merrick, 1128 Liberty street, $2500; Lorenzo Cole, 920 Jefferson avenue, $500; Ernest Matsius, 506 Kaighn avenue, $500; Leo McKenna, 426 Mt. Vernon street, $500.

Motive in Doubt

Motive for the shooting was so tangled in the mazes of gangland’s intrigues of love, avarice and rivalry that police confessed they were unable to fathom it. Gangland’s glib explanation was that Doris and Connors quarreled over change for a $5 bill in the Nonpariel Club, Second and Kaighn avenue several hours before the shooting.

The shooting took place in front of the American Restaurant, 506 Kaighn avenue after the two men had engaged in a bitter quarrel at a table inside. Other patrons saw both arise and punch viciously. Doris suffered severe cuts on the face in the exchange. Then the fighters walked out to the street to finish the battle.

But as Connors raised his hands, the other pulled a pistol and began firing at point-blank range. Connors screamed and ran back toward the restaurant with Doris, the pistol shill in readiness in pursuit.

Shot Shatters Pane

Three shots were fired. One crashed through a window of the United Shoe Repair Shop on the opposite side of the street at 505 Kaighn avenue.

In his haste to escape, Connors lunged through the glass panel of the restaurant door, cutting his hands and face.

The wounded man ran through the kitchen into Amber street at the rear. Doris pursued him as far as Broadway but turned from the chase when a group of pedestrians ran toward him. Connors collapsed near the corner as he cried, “Get the wagon, I’m shot.”

Sage, the suspect denied bail, tried to put the fugitive board a Philadelphia-Pitman bus, police said, but the driver refused to take him as a passenger because he said he was not permitted to make stops in Gloucester, where Sage asked the driver to discharge Doris.

Meanwhile available detectives and patrolmen were hurried to the scene. When the search ended Doris had been in a cell in Camden police headquarters several hours as a “drunk.”

Picked Up as Drunk

He was “sent in” by Policeman Joseph Leonhardt after telling an incoherent story of “bumping off a guy.” Leonhardt sized him up as helplessly drunk and arrested him near the Nonpareil Club less than 30 minutes after the shooting.

It was not until later, when Doris’ friends, a woman among them, called police headquarters for news of him. All asked for him by his right name except the woman. She asked first for Doris and then for “John King.” This was the alias Doris gave when “slated.” He was questioned in his cell by Detective Sergeant Samuel Johnson, but it was not until he actually was identified as the assailant that police were certain they had the right man.

As Detectives Koerner, Cheesman, Carpani, McGrath and Troncone continued to bring suspects into headquarters for questioning, Selah, one of those arrested near the scene of the shooting, was asked as a detective pointed to Doris:

“Is that the man?” Selah nodded.

Doris Record Bad

Doris has a criminal record that dates back to his school days. Once, Judge James E. Gorman, Philadelphia, told him he was headed for the electric chair—and end that looms as a distinct possibility. Doris also was suspected in the murder of Joseph (Mose) Flannery, in Kaighn avenue, between Front and Second streets, a few doors from the Nonpareil Club.

So far as Camden authorities were able to determine last night, Connors has no police record. He has been linked, they said, to a beer racket and is known as a frequenter of gambling joints, police said, but local records show no mark against him.

Machine Gun Holds Mystery

Two mysterious elements stand out to further baffle scrutiny of the motives behind the shooting. One is the sudden closing of two South Camden gambling joints—one in a second floor room in Broadway, below Kaighn avenue and the other at Tenth street and Kaighn avenue. These places, both operating at full blast, closed their doors on Friday without an explanation that could be reconciled with the circumstances.

The other mysterious touch to yesterday’s affair was an apparently well-authenticated report that police arrested a man in a car with a machine gun. Efforts to learn the identity of this man were fruitless.

Speculation concerning the closing of the gambling houses jumped from rumors of a war of rival gamblers, to warnings of a holdup or of a police raid. Paraphernalia was removed from both places and sentries posted to spread discreet warnings for patrons to keep away. The place at Tenth street and Kaighn avenue was closed by police three months ago. Its reopening was unexplained.

The shooting spurred police officials to what Chief Lewis Stehr declared would be a wholesale cleanups of South Camden’s hangouts and gaming dens.

“Orders went out three months ago,” said Stehr “to clamp on the lid. We have been working hard to keep it on. This shooting may have no significance in itself, but it stresses the need to wipe out the practice of carrying weapons.”

Extra details of plain clothesmen were on duty in the Kaighn avenue district last night, Stehr announced.

Supreme Court Justice Frank T. Lloyd, Merchantville, recently appointed to serve the district including Camden, declared he intends to review the facts in yesterday’s shooting to determine if his intervention in alleged Camden racketeering is warranted.

Justice Lloyd’s charge to the April grand jury demanding a curb on the carrying of firearms and asking a campaign to curb the influx of Philadelphia criminals into South Jersey, caused widespread anticipation of a general review of vice conditions here.

Commissioner David S. Rhone, director of public safety, said the police department “has its hands full” in attempting to execute orders for a cleanup he issued some months ago.

He declared he issued special orders yesterday to Chief Stehr as a result of the most recent shooting. But he declined to disclose their purport.

The shooting was subject of a lengthy conference of the county’s law-enforcement officers in the prosecutor’s office. Lawrence T. Doran, chief of county detectives and Rocco Palese, assistant prosecutor, refused to comment on the possible effect the shooting might have on demands for a review of conditions here.

Doran, who entered the investigation on orders of the prosecutor’s office attempted unsuccessfully to induce the wounded man to name his assailant. He permitted Connors’ brother, Raymond, to ask Joseph, hoping that the brother would aid him.

Instead, Raymond walked to his brother’s side and whispered:

“Don’t say a word. Keep your mouth shut.”

Doran arrested him immediately as a material witness.


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