Most of us know something about John Dillinger. There have been movies, books, newspaper and other media articles about his criminal life. There’s even a club that celebrates annually at the spot where he was killed. But if you ask who William Patrick O’Malley was, you are likely to be met with silence and no recognition of the name.
In all probability, the last words Sergeant O’Malley ever heard came from Dillinger. He was said to have screamed, “Get over. I’ll get that son of a bitch,” just seconds before pointing his Thompson sub-machine gun at Sergeant O’Malley and firing. Eight rounds found their mark across the lawman’s chest. He died at the scene. He was guilty of only one thing. He didn’t know that Dillinger was wearing a bullet-proof vest when he fired at the crook coming out of a bank he had just robbed in East Chicago, Indiana. Others said that Dillinger told the dying police officer, “You asked for it,” before making his escape.
As he died on the street in front of the bank, his wife and three daughters waited for their husband and father to return home at the end of his shift. Sergeant O’Malley was forty-three years old on that day, January 15, 1934. Research indicates that he was likely a veteran of WWI. Little else is known of the man who was murdered by John Dillinger.
Like most funerals for police officers killed in the line-of-duty, thousands turned out for Sergeant O’Malley, including officers from many other jurisdictions. City offices were closed by order of the Mayor. But once he was buried in Calvary Cemetery, just like many of other officers killed in the line-of-duty, his life was largely forgotten. No movies, no books, just a man who gave his life trying to protect society from one of the sorriest humans to ever take a breath, whose name should be erased from our memory and replaced with the hero, William Patrick O’Malley.