SUNSET PARK– Remembering fallen heroes, a century later.
On Tuesday, May 7, the 72nd Precinct dedicated plaques in the station house, 830 Fourth Avenue, in memory of two police officers who served the area and died in the line of duty in the early years of the 20th century.
The event was attended by descendants of the fallen heroes — Patrolmen Arthur Loewe, who was killed in July 1922, and James Mangan, who died in October 1910 — as well as of the people they died protecting.
Mangan — who was appointed to the Police Department in 1893 and assigned to the 144th Precinct, which is the current 72nd Precinct — died while helping people escape a burning building, explained retired Police Officer Richard Lejman, who organized the ceremony along with members of the 72nd Precinct Community Council.
“At about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, 1910, [Mangan] discovered a fire in a three-story building with a stationery store on the ground floor,” Lejman said. “Smoke was coming out of the doorway of the store and hallway. After sounding the alarm, he entered the building and started to guide members of the Schnitzler family to safety.”
Another patrolman helped Mangan rescue the inhabitants via the fire escape. However, Mangan went back into the burning building after he was told that there were still children inside.
“He found a three-year-old in the middle of the bedroom, took him and brought him outside,” Lejman recounted. Then, “nearing exhaustion from the smoke and the heat, [Mangan] rushed back into the building and found a two-year-old girl unconscious in her crib.”
Mangan brought her to the stairs, where he leaned over and shouted for help. However, before firefighters could reach him, he was overcome by the smoke and fell over the railing, the child still in his arms.
“He landed on the floor below, striking his head in the process, yet still holding onto Dorothy,” Lejman said. “He landed on his back, using his body to protect her. She was uninjured and was revived later.”
Mangan was taken to what was then Methodist Hospital, where he died.
“A hundred and one years ago, Officer James Mangan saved my great aunt and her older brother from an apartment fire,” said Jeanette Engert, the great niece of the girl Mangan saved. “If not for Officer Mangan, my family as we know it would not exist today.”
As for Loewe, Lejman said he died of wounds sustained when he confronted a group of armed burglars who were breaking into a home on Eighth Street near Second Avenue.
Loewe learned of the intrusion, Lejman said, “When he was approached by Marie Kennedy who [had] noticed two men scaling her backyard fence.”
Loewe returned to the home with Kennedy to find four men in the backyard. “He ordered them to put their hands up,” said Lejman. “Three did, but one put up his left hand and kept his right hand at his side. When he was told a second time to put up his hand, the man fired a gun as he raised it. Patrolman Loewe returned fire and a second man started shooting at him. The remaining two men then shot at him. Some 30 shots were fired and Loewe was hit four times.”
Loewe still managed to reload his revolver and shoot at the men.
He died later that night in the hospital.
“We did not know a lot about my uncle’s history,” said Maria Delaney, Loewe’s grand niece. “I’m grateful to Uncle Arthur for his bravery and thankful to this precinct for keeping us safe. Thank you to the 72nd Precinct. We will be forever grateful and you will see us from time to time coming in to admire the plaque and continue the legacy.”
“Here you get the feeling of being part of a larger community for the greater good,” added Rosemary Bakker, who is also Loewe’s grand niece. “Saying my uncle was a part of this makes me feel a sense of service instead of just the tragedy.”
“When you become a police officer, you just don’t get a job, you gain the entire NYPD as your family,” said Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, the precinct’s commanding officer. “It is important that we dedicate these plaques to the patrolmen not only to remind us of their heroism but to let the families know we will never forget.”