The 43 Casualties of 1967


A man removes an unidentified woman from a burning building. She was screaming “Mother, mother.” It is unknown if her mother was in the building at the time of the fire. // PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE WALTER P. REUTHER LIBRARY


Editor's Note: The following list was primarily obtained from 1967 news reports. They have been cross referenced, corrected, and reconciled where possible. 

Sunday, July 23

Krikor "George" Messerlian (68, white). Store owner beaten about 2:30 p.m. while defending his shoe repair shop at 7711 Linwood St. Died July 27 at Henry Ford Hospital.

Sheren George (23, white). Car passenger struck in the chest by an unknown shooter at 11:30 p.m. as her husband tried to drive past a mob at Woodward Avenue and Melbourne Street. The mother of two died overnight at Detroit General Hospital.

Willie Hunter (26, black) and Prince Williams (32, black). Apparent looters trapped by fire in the basement of Brown’s Drug Store on 12th Street and asphyxiated. They were last seen together on Sunday evening. Their charred, decomposing bodies were discovered July 26. Although time of death was impossible to determine, it’s very possible they were the first victims of the riot.

Monday, July 24

Walter Grzanka (45, white). Shot about midnight by shopkeeper while looting Temple Market on Fourth Street. Pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m. at Detroit General Hospital, the first official fatality of the riot. (Sheren George would die an hour later.)

Clifton Pryor (23, white). Alleged rooftop sniper killed by National Guardsman at 2:45 a.m. Witnesses maintain the unarmed victim was one of several tenants at 667 W. Alexandrine St. guarding against sparks from nearby fires.

John Ashby (24, white). Detroit firefighter electrocuted at 3:30 a.m. when his metal helmet touched a high-voltage line while fighting a blaze at Canton and Lafayette streets. Died Aug. 4 at Detroit General Hospital.

Fred Williams (49, black). Homeowner electrocuted about 8:20 a.m. by a downed power line in the alley behind his burning residence at 9541 Goodwin St.

Herman Ector (30, black). Shot at 9:45 a.m. by Waverly Solomon, an unlicensed security guard who claimed that his rifle went off when Ector tried to grab it.

Daniel Jennings (36, black). Killed by storeowner during a noontime break-in at Stanley Meszczenski’s drugstore at 6000 John R St. 

Robert Beal (49, black). Shot dead at 1:25 p.m. by police while looting Rite-Way Auto Parts at 9335 Oakland Ave.

Joseph Chandler (34, black). Looter fatally wounded by Detroit cops after fleeing the Food Time Market on Second Avenue. Pronounced dead at 1:45 p.m.

Herman Canty (46, black). Shot in the neck by police at about 2:45 p.m. as he drove off in a van with goods stolen from the Bi-Lo Supermarket on West Grand Boulevard.

Alfred Peachlum (35, black). Killed by police about 4 p.m. while looting the A & P supermarket at 3430 Joy Rd.  

Alphonso Smith (35, black). Shot by police at 5 p.m. inside the Standard Food Market at 9750 Dexter.

Nathaniel Edmonds (23, black). Shot dead around 5:30 p.m. on Baldwin Street near Harper Avenue by a white man, Richard Paul Shugar, who accused him of breaking into a nearby store. 

Charles Kemp (35, black). Looter shot in the back by police and National Guardsmen at 5:20 p.m. as he fled Borghi’s Market on Mack Avenue.

Richard Sims (35, black). Shot by police in a neighbor’s back door about 8:30 p.m. after he was spotted trying to break into the Hobby Bar at Linwood and Buena Vista streets. 

Frank Tanner (19, black). Mortally wounded by police Monday evening after he ran from a store at East Grand Boulevard and Helen Street. Tenants of the building where he collapsed didn’t call for help as they are said to have not noticed him until the next morning. Tanner was finally taken to Detroit General Hospital the following morning and pronounced dead at 8:05 a.m.

Carl Smith (30, white). Detroit firefighter shot through the head at 12:50 a.m. on the corner of St. Jean Street and Mack Avenue, during a period of heavy rifle fire. The fatal shot was attributed to an unidentified sniper. 

Emanuel Cosby (26, black). Killed by police around midnight as he ran from N & T Grocery at 4441 E. Nevada Ave.

Tuesday, July 25

Henry Denson (27, black). Shot dead by a guardsman about 2:10 a.m. after the car he was riding in allegedly ran a checkpoint on Mack near East Grand Boulevard. Witnesses disputed official reports that the driver had tried to run down police and guardsmen.

Julius Dorsey (55, black). Security guard accidentally shot outside the fruit market he was protecting at 1000 Field St. The guardsman who killed him about 1:30 a.m. was responding to reports of looters in the vicinity.

Jerome Olshove (27, white). The only policeman to die was shot when another officer’s shotgun discharged during a struggle with a looter. The incident took place about 3 a.m. outside the A & P store at 121 Holbrook Ave. 

Roy Banks (46, black). A deaf-mute shot at 4:30 a.m. while walking to a bus stop to go to work on Crane Street, near Rohns Street. Guardsmen maintained he had been spotted looting a bar at Mack and Rohns. Died Aug. 14. 

Ronald Evans (24, black) and WILLIAM JONES (32, black). Killed by multiple gunshots from Detroit police and guardsmen early Tuesday after being caught stealing beer from Bob’s Market at 4100 Pennsylvania St. Several witnesses disputed the cops’ claims that the men, both drunk and unarmed, tried to flee. 

Arthur Johnson (36, black) and PERRY WILLIAMS (36, black). Killed by Detroit police about 3:30 p.m. inside Sherman Loan Co. at 1401 Holbrook Ave. 

Jack Sydnor (38, black). The only known sniper to die was killed by police at 9:45 p.m. Sydnor was drunk when he started shooting his pistol out the window of his third-floor apartment on Hazelwood Street. He managed to wound one policeman before being killed.

Tanya Blanding (4, black). Killed Tuesday night by .50-caliber machine-gun fire directed against her family’s second-floor apartment at 1756 W. Euclid St. The National Guard tank commander who ordered the bursts believed sniper fire was originating from the building.

John Leroy (30, black). Among a carload of men fired on by National Guardsmen shortly before midnight as they drove on Lycaste, near Mack. Died July 28 at Detroit General Hospital.

Wednesday July 26 

William N. Dalton (19, black). Suspected arsonist killed by shotgun blasts from an unidentified police officer shortly after midnight. Witnesses said officers took him into an alley on Grand River Avenue between Fernwood and Edmonton streets and goaded him into running.

Helen Hall (51, white). Killed about 1 a.m. as she opened the drapes of her fourth-floor room at the Harlan House Motel at 6500 John Lodge Freeway. Evidence pointed to the Connecticut businesswoman being killed by a National Guard who was mistaken for a sniper. 

Aubrey Pollard (19, black), Carl Cooper (17, black), and Fred Temple (18, black). Killed during an overnight raid on the Algiers Motel at Woodward and Virginia Park. Each was shot at close range with a shotgun. The Detroit officers charged with murder and conspiracy in their deaths were later acquitted.

Larry Post (26, white). The only National Guardsman to die was accidentally killed by fellow guardsmen opening fire on a car that reportedly ran a roadblock at Dexter Avenue and Richton Street early Wednesday morning. The curfew violators, three white men in their early 20s, claimed they were beaten inside a locked room by 10th Precinct officers; one suffered a broken jaw.

Willie McDaniels (23, black). Shot in the head by police about 2:30 p.m. after fleeing the Domestic Outfitting store at 6858 Gratiot Ave. Died the following evening.

George Talbert (20, black). Unarmed pedestrian shot about 5 p.m. by a guardsman as he walked on LaSalle Gardens South, near 12th Street. Died Aug. 5 at Henry Ford Hospital. The National Guard said he was shot for refusing to obey an order to halt. 

Julius Lust (26, white). Shot dead by police about 10 p.m. while trying to steal car parts at the G & W Auto Parts junkyard at 17130 Joseph Campau Ave. 

Albert Robinson (38, black). Shot and bayoneted by National Guardsmen Wednesday evening after they stormed an apartment building at Davison and LaSalle Boulevard in search of snipers. Died Aug. 5 at Detroit General Hospital. 

Saturday, July 29

Ernest Roquemore (19, black). Shot in the back by a paratrooper who allegedly was aiming at an armed suspect fleeing a raided flat at 3484 St. Jean St. Pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m. 

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