June 16, 1947: LAPD Officers Hidden in Bar Kill Watchman Stealing Liquor

June 16, 1947, Watchman Shot

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project. This was a follow-up to Kim Cooper’s original post on Wanzy Patterson, an unfortunate watchman who was helping himself to liquor while guarding a bar. Two LAPD officers hid in the bar and confronted him. Officers said Patterson made a move toward his pistol, so the “riddled his body with bullets, 11 shots being fired,” according to the L.A. Times.

Looks like an off night for The Times and a certain unfortunate watchman whose name was indeed Wanzy. One of the officers in question was actually Clarence Albert Stromwall, all the more confusing since his father was Detective Lt. Albert C. Stromwall of the robbery detail and appears in The Times fairly often.

The mangled address was actually Quan Yin Court, named after the goddess of mercy. Alas, while Quan Yin Court and Quan Yin Road are listed in the usually reliable Thomas Bros. 1945 edition (Grid 44, E-2)—and Quan Yin Road appears in the 1951 reverse directory—the streets are not to be found. A check of the 1944 and 1949 Yellow Pages in search of the bar was equally unhelpful.

While making my search, I was more than a little surprised to discover “Negro Alley” still appearing on the Thomas Bros. map of downtown in the 1940s, however. This infamous 19th century lane, sometimes referred to as “Calle de los Negros,” led from Aliso to the Plaza, east of Los Angeles Street, and figured in the Chinese Massacre.

Upon his retirement in 1967 after 21 years with the LAPD, Clarence Stromwall became a municipal judge and ran for the Superior Court in 1978 against incumbent Florence Picard. He died in 1996.

Bonus factoid: the 1949 Yellow Pages lists bars under “Beer Parlors.”

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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3 Responses to June 16, 1947: LAPD Officers Hidden in Bar Kill Watchman Stealing Liquor

  1. Bruce Reznick says:

    I believe this. I was once (about 15 years ago) at a lunch with my father, one of his friends and some of *his* friends, including a retired LAPD officer. He claimed that at one point there was a crime wave of liquor stores being robbed, and they hid in a likely target. When the robbers came in, they shot them, without much pretense of claiming that they had reached for their guns, saying that they needed to discourage other thieves.


  2. Best guess would be both Quan Yin Court and Quan Yin Road were part of Christine Sterling’s China City development between N Spring and Main Streets up around Ord. Quan Yin Temple was located inside the China City walls and I would guess businesses that shared the temple court would be so numbered. As China City was basically burned to the ground twice (1939 and 1948ish) it’s hard to come up with good maps of it.


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