“So whose grave are we looking for?” Zech asked as we entered through the gates of Lincoln Cemetery. The cemetery, located in Chambersburg on the south side of Route 30, is hidden behind the stores that line the street. The entrance can be easily missed as it is tucked between two stores and though it is marked with an iron arch, with the traffic of the morning, we almost passed it.
“I’m not going to tell you,” I replied as I drove slowly into the cemetery, scanning the stones as we passed them. “But you’ll know the grave I want to visit when you see it.”
“Like that one over there?” He pointed to a nearby tombstone.
“Yeah,” I replied as I looked to where he pointed. “Like that one over there.”
I found a place to park and we walked over to the memorial. The stone itself would look like any other stone in the cemetery except for the large plaque affixed to it. The plague, in the shape of a keystone, marks the resting place of Sergeant Timothy G. McCarthy.
Born in Killarney, Ireland, on July 25, 1888, McCarthy served four years in the British Army, having lied about his age to join. When McCarthy was to leave for a tour in India, his mother provided him fare to go to America instead – she was afraid Timothy would contract the fever and die in India like one of his brothers had. With the outbreak of World War One, McCarthy joined the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division and quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant due to his experience in the British Army. Returning home from the war, he enlisted with the Constabulary in Massachusetts and on September 1, 1919, Timothy joined the ranks of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Throughout his career McCarthy remained a dignified officer; he was remembered for his swift, yet just, action. He was known to accept any case given to him and seeing it through from start to finish. Due to his military experience he was a leader who had the respect of other officers.
But his dedication and honesty isn’t what McCarthy is most remembered for. He is noted for the bond he shared with his partner. He found a loyal and trustful partner in a German Shepherd dog, Omar, who was always at McCarthy’s side.
On May 11, 1931, Sergeant McCarthy and Omar left the Troop “E” headquarters in Harrisburg and drove to Chambersburg. Accompanying the duo was Private Philip Duane, a new recruit in the police force. The trio spent the night at the police substation in Chambersburg before continuing to McConnellsburg the next morning. Joining them on this leg of the journey was Private Russell Kniess (also spelled Knies) of Chambersburg.
Upon their arrival in McConnellsburg, the group met with Glenn Yonkers (also spelled Younkers and Yonker in some accounts), the sheriff of Fulton County and Deputy Roy Sipes. Sheriff Yonkers had contacted the state police to help in assisting with the apprehension of Marshall Lodge. Lodge’s neighbors had filed a complaint about his discharging of firearms and his threats toward them.
Marshall Lodge was a thirty-one year old mountaineer known to have mental problems and had once been confined to a hospital in Columbus, Ohio for these disorders. Lodge was known to always be heavily armed and the community feared the presence of the muscular, six-foot-tall man with an explosive temper.
Knowing that Lodge would recognize the sheriff and his deputy, the plan was for the troopers to approach the house and apprehend Lodge. McCarthy’s plan was to peacefully approach and talk to the man hoping to prevent any unnecessary violence. With the plan agreed upon, the groups set out for the Lodge homestead in Crystal Spring, located just south of Breezewood.
When the group arrived at a hill overlooking the Lodge homestead, roughly four hundred yards away, Sheriff Yonkers asked Sergeant McCarthy again what his plans were. McCarthy supposedly replied that he was going to go arrest Lodge. The car, with the State Police officers in it, passed the sheriff’s and drove toward the Lodge house.
As McCarthy and his men pulled into the yard, Mrs. Lodge (Marshall’s mother) was on the porch and when she spotted them, she quickly ran inside the house. Despite the fact that Marshall was a dangerous man, his mother warned Marshall of the arrival of McCarthy and his men.
The group approached the house and Mrs. Lodge stepped back out on the porch and invited the men inside. The group stepped up on the porch and McCarthy entered the kitchen. McCarthy asked Mrs. Lodge how her boy was doing and she replied “he was doing very bad” and “had been so for the past couple of days.” A noise to the right of McCarthy caused him to turn and face Marshall Lodge who suddenly appeared in the doorway that led upstairs.
Before any of the officers could react, Lodge swung up his right arm and shot Sergeant McCarthy at point blank range in the chest with a revolver. Letting out a string of curses, Lodge slammed the door shut and fled upstairs.
McCarthy, though mortally wounded called out “I am not hurt. Get him! Get him!” The men guided the dying sergeant into the yard. Private Kniess, who was now the senior officer, ordered Private Duane to get McCarthy to the car and see how badly he was wounded. They barely made it off of the porch before McCarthy slumped to the ground for the final time.
Kniess reentered the house to apprehend Lodge. Mrs. Lodge refused to let the officers take her son and remained between the two men. Marshall began to fire at the officer, unconcerned for the life of his mother – Kniess did not try to return fire as he feared he would hit Mrs. Lodge. Having little options, Kniess retreated out onto the porch. He attempted to peer through a window to see where Marshall was at in the kitchen and was greeted with a bullet that wounded him above the right eye.
Kniess and Duane retreated to the car to obtain tear gas as Marshall continued firing wildly at the two officers. They managed to get to safety behind the car. They opened the door and were greeted by a brown streak as Omar bolted from the car. He crossed the yard and paused for a moment at the body of his fallen partner before charging towards the house. Around the house he circled, paused to bark and growl at the spots where Marshall lay hid.
Kniess started toward the house with the tear gas. Lodge saw him coming and opened the front door and fired the shotgun at Kniess as he attempted to cross the yard. As Kniess retreated to safety behind the car, Lodge peppered his back with another blast from the shotgun. In the fire fight, one of the bullets hit Lodge in the arm.
Trooper Duane was sent to a nearby farmhouse to call for help as Kniess, Yonkers and Stiles kept the house surrounded. A call for help brought local police, state police, and armed volunteers to the Lodge homestead. With bullets flying, it was amazing that no one else was hit.
At some point, Marshall realized that Omar’s barking was informing the officers of his position and he shot Omar. Despite his injury, Omar continued barking until he no longer had the strength to do his duty. Omar managed to crawl to the fallen McCarthy and lay down beside the fallen officer as bullets continued flying through the air.
After a three hour siege, Mrs. Lodge appeared at the door and one of the officers called out saying that if Marshall would surrender they would not to shoot him. She reentered the house and a couple minutes later reappeared to tell the officers to come and get him. Several entered the house to find Marshall standing there. They disarmed Marshall and took him into custody.
Sergeant McCarthy, a veteran of the force for twelve and a half years, was buried with full honors in Lincoln Cemetery, complete with “TAPS” being played and a twenty-one gun salute. Not a penny from his estate was used to pay for the burial; donations from state and local police officers and the Chambersburg community covered the expenses.
Marshall Lodge was taken to the hospital in Chambersburg where his right arm was amputated. He was committed to the Institution for the Criminal Insane at Fair View in Wayne County. Marshall spent the remainder of his life there, dying in 1969.
Trooper Russell Kniess would eventually recover from his wounds and returned to duty. He would advance through the ranks and in 1963 retired as a Major in the force.
Trooper Duane, at the urging of his parents, retired in June 1931.
Omar, despite the shot that should have been fatal, recovered from his wounds. He was presented with the American Kennel Club Medal of Heroism on November 12, 1931. Members of Troop E were present at the formal ceremony when Omar was presented with the medal. He was the only animal decorated by the Constabulary, earning him a special place in its history.
We finished paying our respects to the fallen officer and left the spot in silence. I wanted to tell Zech the rest of the story, but the dog lover in me knew I would cry if I spoke the words. The story goes that the day Omar returned to duty, he walked over to the box that held Timothy’s belongings, sniffed the crate and lay down beside it. He refused to move and constantly cried for his dead partner until the box was finally removed.
3 thoughts on “In the Line of Duty: Sgt. Timothy McCarthy”
There is a little more to Omar’s story; our PA State Police Wall of Honor mentions that “Members of Troop E were present at the formal ceremony on November 12, 1931, when Omar was presented the American Kennel Club Medal of Heroism. He was the only animal so decorated by the Constabulary, earning him a special place in its history.”
Thank you for the additional information. I did not know about Omar being the only animal to receive this honor. The article has been edited to reflect this. Thank you again.
You’re welcome. I appreciated the article telling the story of this fallen hero.