Detectives' Endowment Association, Inc. — Paul DiGiacomo, President

The DEA Honor Roll

Official Line of Duty Deaths

Bernardino ("Barney") Grottano

Rank: Detective

Shield Number: 267

Command: Detective Division

Date of Death: 05/26/1924

Cause of Death: Shot - Robbery in Progress

Detective Bernardino Grottano, better known as Barney, died on May 26, 1924, seven days after he was shot in the line of duty. He was involved in a late night shoot-out with an armed crook who had robbed the United Cigar Store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.

It was approximately 10:30 p.m. on May 19th, when P.O. Martin Stapleton of the Poplar Street station, which at the time was the 93rd Precinct, was on his beat and observed that there was no clerk behind the counter of the cigar store.  When the cop stopped to investigate, a look-out standing in front of the store drew a handgun and pointed it at the cop.  The patrolman lunged at the suspect, but the perp fled on foot.

As the perpetrator ran past off-duty Detective Grottano, who was standing at the corner of Fulton and Hanover Place and had witnessed the event,  Grottano lunged at him, but fell. As Stapleton passed Grottano in the chase, Barney joined him and both Officers fired off several shots at the fleeing subject.  But, the perpetrator returned fire at both Officers.  Stapleton was saved by his cap device: a bullet deflected off the metal, but Grottano was struck in the chest and collapsed. The 26-year-old perpetrator was also felled during the volley and died at the scene. He had a long rap sheet that included grand larceny and drugs. His accomplice, who had previously fled, was eventually caught and prosecuted.

In the fray, Stapleton didn’t realize he had also been shot in the forearm, which he later discovered when he returned to his stationhouse.

Two responding traffic cops bent over Grottano, who whispered that he was a Detective and badly hurt. They rushed him in their vehicle to Brooklyn Hospital. The entire chaotic scene was witnessed by thousands of people as it was reportedly one of the busiest spots in Brooklyn, with theatres, nightclubs, and restaurants in the vicinity. The crowds had to be pushed back by police reserves from several precincts.

Seven days later, at Brooklyn Hospital, Det. Grottano died from his wounds.

Det. Barney Grottano was assigned to the Butler Street station, which at the time was the 91st Precinct. He had a long police career and had been previously attached to the famous Italian Squad, led by Lt. Joseph (Giuseppe) Petrosino. The Italian Squad was the forerunner of all the NYPD organized crime squads, as well as the Bomb Squad. They pursued the Black Hand, the Mafia, and other criminals who preyed on the Italian and immigrant communities on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Det. Grottano, his wife and their two children, lived at 6714 Ninteenth Avenue in Brooklyn. He wore shield number 267. During the 1920s, all Detectives were also given the rank of Sergeant.

Det. Grottano is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Read the story of the events as reported in the New York Times on May 20, 1924, and September 15, 1924.


NY Times articles from 1924

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