Last Friday the Massachusetts State Police honored the life of Patrolman George L. Prentiss who was killed in 1927 while patrolling on his motorcycle on Route 8 in Cheshire.

Patrolman Prentiss was only 25-years old and a one-year veteran of the State Police.  At the time of his death, he was survived by his parents and five brothers and sisters. According to the post on the Mass State Police Facebook page, “Patrolman Prentiss was a member of the 16th RTT (1926) assigned to Troop B. He leaves behind his parents and five siblings. In 1927, at the time of his death, troopers were referred to as patrolmen. Now referred to as Trooper.”

We honor all officers who have died locally while serving in a law enforcement capacity: Capt. Michael Leonard, in 1898; Jailer James Fuller, 1901; Secret Service Operative William Craig, 1902; Officer Leo Sullivan, 1956; and Officer Timothy Shepard, 1988.

In 1898 Captain Michael Lenard was struck by a train as he was attempting to help a mother and child off the tracks.  A freight train approaching the station failed to slow down, striking Capt. Lenard.  Over 5,000 people had gathered at the train depot that day awaiting the arrival of soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War.  Capt. Lenard was 55 years old and left behind a wife and eleven children.

Operative William Craig with the United States Secret Service was killed in the line of duty when the carriage he was riding in was struck by a trolley on South Main Street in Pittsfield.  Craig was on a detail protecting President Roosevelt at the time of his death.  It is not clear if President Roosevelt was in the same carriage as Craig, but Craig’s obituary mentions that President Roosevelt, along with the Governor of Massachusetts, was slightly injured in the accident.  The trolley operator was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail. William Craig was the first Secret Service member killed while protecting a president.  He was 47 years old.

James Fuller worked as a Jailer at the Pittsfield House of Correction in 1901 when he was beaten to death by a prisoner with a six-pound whalebone mallet.  Fuller was overseeing 20 prisoners in the prison's workshop.  Fuller’s killer was declared insane and committed to Bridgewater Insane Asylum in 1901 where he died in 1903.  Before working at the prison Fuller was a member of the Pittsfield Police Department.  James Fuller was 69 years old at the time of his death.  One of his two sons went on to become the Sheriff of Berkshire County.

In 1956 Pittsfield Police Officer Leo Sullivan suffered a fatal heart attack while dealing with an intoxicated man at a local Berkshire restaurant.  Officer Sullivan was off duty at the time.  Officer Leo Sullivan served on the Pittsfield Police Department for 29 years.   Officer Sullivan was 54 years old and was survived at the time by his wife and three children.

On a tragic day at the Police Academy in 1988, Officer Timothy Shepard was overcome with heatstroke and dehydration as he was pushed to the limits during endurance training. According to his obituary, Cadets were only given small cups of water while performing push-ups, running, and other strenuous exercises for hours.  Officer Shepard had to undergo a liver transplant, he slipped into a coma and later died from complications. Shepard’s issues were not isolated that day as fifteen other Cadets were hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration.  Officer Shepard and his wife were expecting their first child at the time of his death.

For more information on fallen officers and troopers visit the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation website.  Picture of Patrolman Prentiss provided by the Memorial Foundation.

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