When Officer Eugene "Chic" Lucas climbed the steps of an apartment building at the corner of Fayette and Elm Streets in Conshohocken to serve an arrest warrant 95 years ago, there was no way he could have known those moments would be among his last.
Lucas, 49, along with Officer Cliff Campbell, swung open the door of an apartment belonging to "Black Mike," a man wanted for Desertion and Intent to Kill, and found him sitting at a table eating his dinner.
Lucas ordered Black Mike to put his hands in the air, but the suspect instead reached for his gun and fired three shots at the officers, one of which struck Lucas in the neck. The wounded officer managed to make it down the street to a doctor's office, but eventually succumbed to his wounds. It was only his second day on the job.
On Tuesday morning, June 26, nearly a century later, Officer Lucas was honored by an impressive collection of Montgomery County law enforcement and government officials as they dedicated a plaque in his honor at the Conshohocken Police Station.
"Today's dedication honors the memory of a man who lost his life after one day on the job," said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman. "But whether an officer serves for 24 hours or 24 years, when they pay the ultimate sacrifice, we honor them all the same."
Ferman went on to say that Lucas spent most of his life living in the southern United States, and worked as a paperhanger before pursuing law enforcement. He was also a champion welterweight wrestler, she said.
His killer, "Black Mike" was eventually caught by police five years later and brought to justice in Montgomery County. He died in prison in 1937 after serving 15 years for his crime.
"We gather today not because we knew Chic, or knew his favorite food or favorite song," said Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. "We remember this officer because of the value that he had, the value of public service. The value of willing to sacrifice for the community and the greater good."
Conshohocken Chief of Police Michael Orler, along with Sergeant George Metz, then unveiled a plaque dedicated to Lucas. Part of the Montgomery County Hero Cops Plaque Dedication Program, the memorial is the 17th in the county's mission to honor all 26 of the fallen officers in its history. Lucas was the first ever to be killed in the line of duty.
Prominent Philadelphia attorney Jimmy Binns, a partner with the program, and pastor Bradley Lacey, of the First Baptist Church at Conshohocken, also spoke at the ceremony. County Commissioner Bruce Castor, who helped found the plaque program as DA, Sheriff Eileen Behr, Conshohocken Mayor Robert Frost, and approximately three-dozen police officers from throughout the county were also in attendance.
"We're so appreciative of your presence," said Shapiro. "We value the service that you all render and we value the pride that you take in your job. We commissioners and we 800,000 residents of Montgomery County, thank you each and every day for what you do. We bless the memory of Chic and bless him for his service."