P/O John Christopher

Fallen HeroPatrolman John Christopher 

On this day in Baltimore Police history,  August 18, 1872, we lost our brother, Patrolman John Christopher. gunfire based on the following:

Patrolman Christopher was lost to gunfire. It started out as a cloud of dust being thrown up by two young wagon men as they raced their team's necks down a dirt road near Catonsville’s Railway Park. The drivers were cursing their horses and one another in a race where friendly competition quickly ended as both James Ford and James Dorsey cracked the reins from their wagons into their animal’s necks and backs in order to gain speed. Each struggled more and more to go faster; each had nothing more in mind than to win that race and to try to overtake the other. The race had begun at “Kelly’s Woods” in Catonsville and was nearing the city/county line near Western District. It was in that park, near the old Western, that the two men stopped, and an argument ensued. The two young men argued like they raced; they were loud, and each wanted nothing more than to win. They each wanted that win so much that their actions drew the attention of Baltimore City Patrolman John Christopher. As Patrolman Christopher neared Ford and Dorsey, they began to physically fight, each throwing blow after blow at the other. Baltimore Police have not changed much in the 141 years since this incident; police were strong, often relying on the use of brute strength to overcome the situations they find themselves in. On this particular day in 1872, things were not much different. Patrolman Christopher single-handedly separated the two combatants and forced them back into their wagons and on their way. To keep the peace, Patrolman Christopher climbed into James Ford’s wagon with him and rode with him toward his destination, making efforts to maintain peace.

Despite Patrolman Christopher’s best efforts, the two drivers resumed their argument, which escalated quickly into a fight. Dorsey began throwing stones at Ford and warned him that if he bumped into his wagon again, he would shoot him. The fisticuffs resumed, and Dorsey started to live up to his promise of shooting Ford as he pulled a pistol. Patrolman

Christopher saw the weapon and once again gained control over the more violent of the men by forcefully throwing him from his wagon to the ground. That momentary separation was lost when Ford dove onto Dorsey and went for his gun. Before Patrolman Christopher could regain control over either of the men, the pistol was fired once. Even while Dorsey’s anger was focused on Ford, the bullet left his weapon and found its way into the stomach of Officer Christopher, causing severe pain and what would become a fatal injury. Patrolman Christopher felt the burn in his stomach as he fell to the ground.

Our brother patrolman John Christopher was quickly taken to the house of “Justice Pilot,” where he was treated by “Dr. Worsham.”. “Justice Pilot” and “John Young” responded to the scene of the shooting, where they were able to apprehend and arrest both “James Dorsey” and “James Ford.”. Patrolman Christopher made a positive ID and was taken to his home located at 14 South Fremont St., where he was cared for by “Prof. J. H. Butler.”. His injuries were painful, and they were fatal, leaving the medical professionals in a place where no matter what they could have done, they were unable to save his life. Patrolman Christopher lay in pain from the night of the shooting on August 18 until the day he passed away on August 23, 1872, at approximately . 3:30 in the afternoon.

As his brothers and sisters in the Baltimore Police Department, it is up to us to make sure he is never forgotten. For his service, honor the City of Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department. May God be with him, so that he may rest in peace.



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End of Watch 18 August 1872
City, St.     City/County line near Western’s District
Panel Number 21-W: 10
Cause of Death    Gunfire
Weapon - Handgun
District Worked Western


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