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Sons of Slain Rogers Park Detective Donate $10K for Bullet-Proof Vests

By Benjamin Woodard | December 11, 2014 7:48pm
 Detectives George Helstern (l.) and Charles Brady (r.) were shot and killed in 1945 on the southeast corner of Lunt Avenue and Clark Street.
Detectives George Helstern (l.) and Charles Brady (r.) were shot and killed in 1945 on the southeast corner of Lunt Avenue and Clark Street.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard; family photos

ROGERS PARK — The sons of a police detective who was gunned down 70 years ago are honoring his memory — and the memory of his partner, who was also killed — by donating $10,000 for new bullet-proof vests for Rogers Park cops.

All officers on duty and Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera met Thursday in the station to thank the benefactors.

"It's a great honor to be part of this," said Michael Brady, 76, son of detective Charles Brady. "We thank you all for your great service to our community."

Brady also spoke on behalf of his brother, Patrick Brady.

The money would be enough to buy 25 vests, said Phil Cline, executive director of the Chicago Police Memorial. The memorial fund's Get Behind the Vest campaign, launched in September, has raised $1 million to buy 2,500 other vests.

"The most dangerous part of the job for Chicago police officers is gun violence," Cline said, adding that 40 officers have been shot in the vest and lived since 1980.

Charles Brady, 36, and his partner, George Helstern, 52, were 40 minutes from the end of their shift on Sept. 2, 1945, when they noticed a suspicious person at the southeast corner of Lunt Avenue and Clark Street, according to old newspaper stories and the memorial fund.

Dressed in street clothes, they identified themselves as police officers, then the shooter pulled a 0.38 caliber revolver and opened fire, striking both officers.

The officers — as well as a passerby — were able to return fire, but the gunman got away. Helstern died on the scene; Brady died hours later.

The shooter was eventually identified as Cecil Smith, a member of a gang that robbed mobsters. His crew later executed him and dumped his body in a grave in the western suburbs.

Jean Wenger, Helstern's granddaughter, also attended the event Thursday. She says she sees the spot where her grandfather died nearly everyday when she catches the Metra train on Lunt Avenue.

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