Little is known of the circumstances that led Officer John F. McCarthy to the rear room of a boarding house on Nov. 30, 1922. It was believed that he was called to the room to settle a dispute over a Chinese lottery ticket.
While he was in the room, an argument started which escalated to a full melee. Reports of yelling, furniture being overturned, and gunshots were later given to the officers who were sent to the scene. Witnesses described the noise as horrific. McCarthy was heard to yell out repeatedly for the assailants to stop beating him. His yelling stopped as numerous gunshots were heard. Witnesses saw three men run from the boarding house, one held a revolver in his hand.
Oakland police received a mysterious call from an individual who said that there was trouble at the location. Arriving officers discovered McCarthy mortally injured from five gunshot wounds. The room was in total disarray, indicating a violent struggle had taken place. Large amounts of whiskey and cocaine were found in the room. McCarthy’s revolver was missing. It is believed that he was shot with his own weapon.
Two suspects were arrested shortly after the officers arrived and made their terrible discovery. However, they were released the following day. A $350 reward was set aside for the arrest of the perpetrators.
McCarthy, 44, had served 14 years with the Oakland Police Department. His wife and two small children survived him.