The DEA Honor Roll
Official Line of Duty Deaths
Guido J. Pessagno
Shield Number: 138
Command: 20 Squad
Date of Death: 10/22/1931
Cause of Death: Shot and Killed in the Line of Duty
Det. Guido Passagno (also spelled Pessagno) was 26 years old and had served the NYPD for five years when he was shot and killed while trying to capture a gangster who had murdered a Patrol Officer, Jeremiah C. Brosnan, in 1928.
Passagno had joined the force in 1926. He had been promoted to Detective after he captured five perpetrators who had killed a man in a cigar store holdup. He also later captured a subject who was wanted for the murder of Patrolman Dominick Caviglia in 1930 in “San Juan Hill” (which is now the Lincoln Center district) and still the confines of the 20 Precinct.
On October 22, 1931, Passagno and two colleagues — Detectives James de Ferrari and Edward Willi — were responding to a boardinghouse at 154 West 78th Street in the confines of the 20 Precinct. Patrol Officer John Broderick had called the stationhouse, then located on West 68 Street, when he recognized three men in the neighborhood had walked into the location. The men he noticed — Edward Popke (also known as “Fats” McCarthy), Vincent Coll, and Enrico Battaglia — were wanted for a previous shooting in which a five-year-old boy had been killed. Coll was an associate of the famous gangster “Legs” Diamond.
Broderick remained outside the boardinghouse while Passagno, de Ferrari and Willi entered with guns drawn. After calming down the belligerent landlady whose loud voice alerted the gangsters, the Detectives ran up to the third floor and shouted through one of the doors to the three hoods, who responded by unloading a barrage of gunfire at the Detectives. All three Detectives were wounded badly, but only Passagno mortally. He died at Roosevelt Hospital. Gangster Battaglia was also killed, but the other perpetrators escaped out the window and across the roof.
20 Squad Detectives John Riggs and Harold Moore were given the assignment of nabbing Det. Passagno’s killer. It took almost a year until they traced McCarthy to outside the Albany area where they followed Fats McCarthy’s wife to a house, where, after a gun battle, the gangsters were arrested. Detective Moore was shot five times, but recovered. Both Detectives Riggs and Moore were promoted to Detective First Grade and awarded the Medal of Honor.
Det. Passagno was given an Inspector’s funeral with honors in the Greenwich Village area. At the time, Detectives de Ferrari and Willi were still recovering from their gunshot wounds in the hospital. Both the New York Daily News and the New York Times reported Passagno was buried near his home at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens. Det. Passagno was survived by his mother and his two brothers.
Click on the pdf links below to read more 1931 accounts: