Officer Gillin was accidentally shot and killed by another officer when he and several officers responded to a prisoner riot at the Linn County Jail in Marion, Iowa. One of Iowa’s most notorious criminals, Harvey Lee, who was in jail for blowing a bank safe, threw a bottle of nitroglycerin against the wall in his cell blowing out part of the wall. As the officers entered the jail one officer opened fire with an automatic rifle striking Officer Gillin and another officer as Lee threw what he thought was another bottle of nitro at the officers. Luckily he picked up the wrong bottle or many officers would have been killed.
It was later discoverd that one of Lee’s gang members had smuggled three bottles of nitroglycerin to him. Harvey Lee was convicted of numerous crimes and sentenced to 35 years in prison. On June 11, 1913, he escaped. In 1914 he was located in California at San Quentin Prison where he was serving a three year sentence for burglary under an assumed name. In 1917 as Lee was being returned to Iowa he escaped again by jumping from the train. Several days later he was recaptured and returned to prison in Iowa.
Officer Gillin had served with the agency for 2 years. He was survived by his wife and two sons.
Cedar Rapids Police Department
End of Watch: Jan. 14, 1913