SUNSET PARK – Patrolman Arthur Loewe and Patrolman James Mangan were killed in the line of duty more than a century ago, but their legacy lives on at the 72nd Precinct stationhouse in Sunset Park, where two plaques were dedicated in their memory, and the families they touched brought honor to their last moments.
Officer Loewe, a World War I veteran and 5-year NYPD officer, was shot to death at a Fifth Avenue apartment burglary on July 22, 1922. Officer Mangan, an 18-year veteran officer, was rescuing two small children trapped in Sunset Park tenement building on October 26, 1910, when he was overcome by smoke while holding a child and fell off a stairway railing, fatally hitting his head, but saving the child with his body.
The memorial plaques were due to the research by retired Police Officer Richard Lejman who went through archives and papers to find the full history of both officers and then, obtained the plaques for this special day of remembrance. On hand to remember the two officers were the family of Officer Loewe and the family of the two children saved by Officer Mangan so many years ago.
“Officer Mangan saved my great-aunt Dottie and her holder brother Edmund Schnitzler from an apartment fire,” said Jeanette Engert, a great-niece of the two siblings. “My great-grandmother Sophie apparently escaped to the street from the fire, and in her haste, left the children in their flat upstairs. If not for Officer Mangan heeding the hysterical pleas of Sophie to save her children, my family as we know it may not exist today.”
Engert was accompanied by great grand-niece Mary Ann Engert and Joan Marie Schnitzler, also a great-grand-niece of the two rescued children. Officer Loewe was remembered by his family, led by Maria Delaney who with family members Maria Sussillo and Rosemary Bakker, thanked the precinct organizers and commanders for their work in resurrecting the memory and deeds of Officer Loewe.
Loewe, who was a resident of Bay Ridge, has left a long line of family members in the community, including Delaney who lives several houses away on 74th Street from where Loewe and his family lived 97 years earlier. Loewe was remembered for his valiant efforts in stopping armed burglars who were breaking into 253 8th Street where after handing a brother-in-law of a complainant a nightstick to back him up, they encountered the four burglars; a shoot-out ensued, four shots hitting Loewe.
The wounded officer was not done though, able to reload and continue the gun battle. Two of the burglars were hit by the hail of bullets, one later found dead in his family’s home. Loewe was rushed by delivery wagon to Methodist Hospital, still semi-conscious, but he later succumbed to the wounds. The officer was later buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. A youth center was named in 1939 in his honor.
Both Delaney an Engert expressed appreciation to the precinct and its commander, Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, but saved special recognition for retired Police Officer Lejman who spent countless hours researching the two officer’s history and working towards arranging for the new plaques to be funded by the 72nd Precinct Community Council, a great supporter of the police work in Sunset Park.
“This was nearly 100 years ago that he (Loewe) died while performing his duty and we are grateful to Officer Lejman for taking the time to find out this great history,” she said.
Engert was equally surprised to be able to hear the full story of how Officer Mangan had saved the two children. “I started researching my family genealogy and history a few years ago and it really seemed nothing very significant had occurred in my little family,” Engert said.
“I’d find newspaper clippings of relatives, but they were usually simple things, school graduations, property sales, memberships in Odd-fellows lodge and other odds and ends. I had no idea that the existence of some of my family members would have had a lasting impact on another family too. One hundred and nine years ago, Officer Mangan saved my great aunt Dottie and her older brother Edmund from an apartment fire.”
She added, “thank you to Officer Richie Lejman and the others who have worked so hard to put this day together and thank you Officer Mangan and your family for your sacrifice in the line of duty.”
The plaques will remain on display in perpetuity in the Fourth Avenue stationhouse.