Pittsfield Police Remember Fallen Captain Killed 123 Years Ago Today
Today the Pittsfield Police Department is honoring fallen officer Captain Michael Leonard who was killed when struck by a train while on duty on this day in 1898. Captain Leonard was in charge of a detail at the train depot on June 1st as 5000 people gathered to welcome home soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
From reports Captain Leonard was struck by a freight train as he attempted to help a mother and child off the tracks. Captain Leonard was 55 years old and was survived by his wife and 11 children. Leonard was on the Pittsfield Police force for 17 years.
Locally, five officers have died in the line of duty: Capt. Michael Leonard, in 1898; Jailer James Fuller, 1901; Secret Service Operative William Craig, 1902; Officer Leo Sullivan, 1956; and Officer Timothy Shepard, 1988.
Jailer James Fuller worked as a Jailer at the Pittsfield House of Correction in 1901 when he was beaten to death by a prisoner with a six-pound whalebone mallet as he was overseeing 20 prisoners in the prisons workshop. Fuller’s killer was declared insane and committed to Bridgewater Insane Asylum in 1901 where he died in 1903. Before working at the prison Fuller was a member of the Pittsfield Police Department. James Fuller was 69 years old at the time of his death. One of his two sons went on to become the Sheriff of Berkshire County.
Operative William Craig with the United States Secret Service was killed in the line of duty in 1902 when the carriage he was riding in was struck by a trolly on South Main Street in Pittsfield while on detail protecting President Roosevelt. It is not clear if President Roosevelt was in the same carriage as Craig, but Craig’s obituary on the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes website stated that President Roosevelt along with the Governor of Massachusetts were slightly injured in the accident. William Craig was the first Secret Service member killed while protecting a president. He was 47 years old.
Police Officer Leo Sullivan suffered a fatal heart attack in 1956 while dealing with an intoxicated man at a local Berkshire restaurant. Officer Sullivan was off duty at the time. Officer Leo Sullivan served on the Pittsfield Police Department for 29 years. Officer Sullivan was 54 years old and was survived at the time by his wife and three children.
In a tragic day at the Police Academy in 1988, Officer Timothy Shepard on his first day at the academy died at the age of 25 from dehydration as he was overcome with heat stroke and dehydration as he was pushed to the limits of endurance training. According to his obituary on the Mass Fallen Heroes website, cadets were only given small cups of water while performing push-ups, running and other strenuous exercises for hours. Officer Shepard had undergone a liver transplant, slipped into a coma and later died from complications. Shepard’s issues were not isolated that day as fifteen other Cadets were hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration. Officer Shepard and his wife were expecting their first child at the time of his death.
The Officer Down Memorial Page website was the source of the fallen officer’s obituary information.
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