On September 20, 1904, Officer McGinnis and Officer Jack Gallagher attempted to arrest John Harbin, a local petty criminal, after spotting him standing next to his ice cream wagon at 5th and Walnut Streets. Officer McGinnis directed Harbin to step out and walk with him to the station. Harbin drew a revolver and shot at Officer McGinnis, hitting him several times. Officer Gallagher heard the shot and observing Harbin with a revolver drew his own revolver and shot him once and then struck Harbin with his club when Harbin raised his revolver again. Officer McGinnis died a short time later during emergency surgery at police headquarters. Harbin also died from his injuries at city hospital.
The next morning Mayor Neff visited Police Headquarters and expressed his condolences. Chief Hayes announced that the officers had responded to complaints of citizens of abusive language used by a drunken Harbin toward citizens, that they had acted within their rights as officers and declared there would be no investigation of the shooting.
Services for Officer McGinnis were held at 7:30 am September 22nd at McGinnis' brother's home at 3715 Central. Chief John Hayes; John Halpin, Inspector of Detectives and the department's full complement of 150 officers from all stations in the city were in attendance. Following the service Officer McGinnis' body was provided a full police escort by 100 officers and the mounted patrol from the Vine Street Station to Union Station where he will begin his last journey to St. Louis by rail for burial. The Third Regiment band in uniform and and several companies of firemen also took part in the funeral and accompanied the escort to Union Station.
Interred: McGinnis family plot, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.
Article by Brent Marchant