Thomas G. O'Connor

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Officer Thomas G. O’Connor - 1st Portland Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty Shot August 21, 1867, died August 29, 1867

There isn’t a lot of information about Thomas G. O’Connor, and no known pictures of him exist. We do know that he was born around 1824 in Ireland where he was married. By 1850 the family was in New York, then to Illinois, Iowa and by 1863 he was widowed and in Portland with three children. In Portland, O’Connor married Anne McLaughlin (also born in Ireland) in 1863 and they took up residence at the corner of Front and Clay. By 1866 they had added two more children to their family.

In 1867, Portland was a budding city of 6,700 people with more than its share of vices and crime. The town Marshal (this was before the full-time police force was created in 1870), was approved by the town council to hire two deputies, and on April 10, 1867, Thomas O’Connor was hired.

The Incident

Four months later on August 21, 1867, Frank Miguel, a native of France, walked out of the Union Hotel at 2:45 in the morning. Miguel was carrying a handgun and by the time he reached First and Morrison, he was shooting it in the air. Deputy Marshals O’Connor and Townsend heard the shots and caught up with Miguel in front of the Oro Fino Saloon at First and Stark.

Miguel pointed his gun at O’Connor who grabbed the gun, pushing it down as it went off, shooting O’Connor in the right thigh and breaking his leg. O’Connor fell to the street, still holding on to Miguel’s gun. Officer Townsend then shot Miguel in the abdomen. Miguel started to strangle Townsend who managed to shoot Miguel in the face, ending the fight. Townsend then went for help while O’Connor kept Miguel covered with Miguel’s gun.

There were no hospitals in Portland in 1867. Miguel was taken to the jail where he died two days later. O’Conner was taken to his brother’s hotel (the What Cheer at Yamhill and Taylor) where he died nine days later, at the age of 43. He was survived by his wife and five children.