On this date in 1909, New York Police Lieutenant Joe Petrosino was assassinated in Palermo, Sicily.
Born in Padua, Italy in 1860, Giuseppe Petrosino came to the United States as a young boy. In 1883, he joined the New York Police Department. In 1895, then-police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt promoted Petrosino to Detective Sergeant in charge of the NYPD’s Homicide Division. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1908 and placed in command of the department’s Italian Squad, a special unit manned by Italian-American officers tasked with investigating Italian organized crime.
While head of the Italian Squad, Petrosino arrested members of the Black Hand organization who were attempting to extort money from opera star Enrico Caruso. While working a case involving an anarchist group, he received a tip that there was a plot to assassinate President McKinley while he was at the World’s Fair in Buffalo, NY. He passed the information on…
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