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Officer Charles A. Ware - Died April 28, 1897

Charles A. Ware

On Tuesday, April 27, 1897, Officer Charles A. Ware, 34, was shot and killed by John Ferriter, a member of the Boo Gang which for years had repeatedly caused the police trouble and terrorized the community in the part of the city known as “Irish Hill.”

At 6:15 pm, a telephone call from the Cincinnati Brewing Company warned police that a gang of toughs and hoodlums was causing a disturbance around Okey’s saloon at East and Georgia Streets.  Officer Charles Ware, who had been waiting to be relieved by the night shift, mounted his bicycle and started for the scene.

When Officer Ware arrived, he found the gang had been drinking heavily and the members were abusive and quarreling among each other.  Leaning his bicycle against a telegraph pole, he ordered the crowd to move out of the alley.  Fearing arrest, many of them moved on, making for their homes. 

While Officer Ware was talking to some of the members of the crowd, John Ferriter came across the street from Okey’s saloon with a beer in his hand, his face bloodied and swollen from the fight. Officer Ware, having scattered the crowd, prepared to mount his bicycle in order to leave.  Seeing Ferriter, he stopped and said:  “It’s curious that you fellows can’t drink beer without raising so much disturbances.”   

Setting down his bicycle, Officer Ware approached Ferriter and began to search him.  Ferriter responded, “No by God, you don’t.  You can’t search me.”  He threw his can of beer at the police officer, and struck out at him.  After a short fight, Ferriter cried out that he had had enough and that he would go along quietly.

Officer Ware took his prisoner to the brewery office to call for the patrol wagon.  Reaching the door, Officer Ware allowed Ferriter to sit on the office steps.  As Officer Ware turned to retrieve his bicycle from an employee of the brewery, Ferriter drew a revolver from his pocket and fired at the officer.  The bullet struck Officer Ware in the temple, killing him instantly. 

Ferriter fled the scene on foot.  Within 15 minutes, he was cornered in a yard on Benton Street by Officer Rochford who had been on his way to roll call when the shooting occurred.  Ferriter was taken to the police station where a throng of people had gathered.  Captain Quigley was just calling the roll of the 90 night policemen, all of whom were directed out to the street to keep the crowd back.  When asked by Superintendent Colbert why he had shot Officer Ware, Ferriter responded “I don’t know, Mr. Colbert – indeed I don’t know.” 

John Ferriter was a member of the Boo Gang known for their drunkenness and violence.   Prior to the murder, he had served four years in the Indiana Boys’ School and had been recently released from the State Prison for grand larceny.   He was convicted and received a life sentence for the murder.  Having being denied parole on several occasions, he was released after serving 19 years of his sentence.  Upon his release, slightly more than one year lapsed before he was arrested again on new charges.

Officer Ware was appointed to the police force on November 1, 1895.  He was survived by his wife and a 5-year old son.  Following a funeral service at his home at 590 Shelby Street, his body was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Donations were submitted to Superintendent Colbert by the community for Officer Ware’s family.  Attached to one check, was a letter saying:

"At the time the Legislature authorized cities to pension firemen who were disabled, or who had spent their lives in the service of the public, it unfortunately neglected to provide for an equally deserving class of public servants – the officers and patrolmen of the police department.  It is to be hoped that this neglect may be remedied by some future Legislature.  For the present, nothing can be done by citizens except by their voluntary act.  I hope that something may be accomplished through you for the benefit of the widow and child whose husband and father recently gave his life for the benefit of the public.  Hoping it will be a nucleus in your hands for a much larger sum, I remain, yours, A. A. McCain.”

In a ceremony on May 13, 1975, FOP Lodge 86 replaced the 8-inch marker on Officer Ware’s grave with a grave stone recognizing his service to the police department and the loss of his life in the line of duty.


Sources:  Indianapolis News - April 28 and May 1, 1897.  Indianapolis Star - June 26 and July 8, 1913; December 10, 1915; July 11, 1918.  Burial Permit – April 30, 1897. Note to Crown Hill Cemetery, April 11, 1975