Officer McKenna was survived by his wife Leila Catherine and father Patrick, who was also a Saint Louis Police Officer.
Police Officer John McKenna was shot and killed while investigating two men he believed were stealing copper streetcar wire.
He had observed a car believed to be used in the thefts and stopped the two occupants. When he searched the men he located a revolver on one of them, at which time he escorted them to a nearby business. One of the men asked if he could get a drink of water and Officer McKenna allowed him to do so. As the man walked behind Officer McKenna he produced a small handgun hidden in his waist band and shot him in the back of the head, killing him.
The two men fled the scene and went to their home. Officer William Dillon, who received a description of the car while checking in during his rounds, recognized it as a car belonging to two brothers. He went to their home and spotted them in the garage. As he entered the garage at gunpoint he was attacked from behind with a hatchet. The two suspects beat him to death and then buried his body in a shallow grave.
Both men were eventually apprehended and sentenced to hang, however, their sentences were commuted to life.
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