He was survived by his wife and three children.
Detective Sergeant Sullivan was shot and killed while he and his partner investigated a rash of robberies in the area of Pine and Olive Streets. Although their shift had finished the two detectives continued their investigation and had gone to a local hotel to ask the clerk if he had seen anyone fitting the descriptions of the two suspects. The clerk took the detectives to a room where two such men were staying.
The men in the room cracked the door open, slammed it, and then began shooting through it. The detectives returned fire and then kicked the door in. One of the suspects was killed and Detective Sergeant Sullivan was mortally wounded. The second suspect fled but was shot and killed by other officers as he attempted to escape in a stolen car. Detective Sergeant Sullivan had been shot five times and succumbed to the wounds the following day.
In addition to his police service Detective Sergeant Sullivan was a U.S. Army veteran. Two of his children followed in his footsteps and became St. Louis police officers.
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