Bizarre Tales: Gunfight at the Gayway in 1948 … a Los Angeles noir story!
OFFICER SHOT DOWN IN BAR GUN BATTLE
Alleged Bandit Also Wounded and Captured; Patrons Dive for Safety as Bullets Fly
LOS ANGELES TIMES (December 7, 1948) — A plainclothes police officer was shot down seriously wounded and a suspect holdup man received a minor wound and was captured in a wild gun battle at the Gayway Cafe, 514 S. Main St., last night as scores of patrons dived for safety under tables and behind the bar.
In a critical condition at the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital is Marvin C. Jacobsen, 30, attached to the narcotic squad. He was shot in the stomach, the left thigh, right hip and left forearm, and was given two blood transfusions before undergoing an emergency operation.
The alleged bandit, Preston Tucker, 28, of 1360 Obispo St., Long Beach, who, police say, had held up a liquor store at 556 S. Main St., just a half-hour before the shooting, received only a minor wound in the left leg.
On Routine Check
Jacobsen, who was on a routine check in the vicinity of the bar, heard that the robbery suspect was seated inside. Approaching the man, he began searching him, when Tucker drew a revolver and fired four shots at the officer, according to witnesses.
Jacobsen emptied his own gun at the man before he collapsed on the floor. The sound of the shots attracted the attention of Officers Richard W. Hedrick, and L.K. Waggoner of the gangster squad, who were outside.
Rushing in, they dragged Jacobsen outside to the sidewalk, and then learning that Tucker was still inside, grasped two tables as shields and advanced toward the rest room where Tucker was hiding.
Tucker staggered out from behind the rest room door and fell in a small entry way.
During the height of the shooting, William Daly, 44, 1106 S. Broadway, a patron, was nicked on the left ear and suffered a bullet burn on the side of his face.
Photo: LAPL 00045187
The building at 514 S. Main dates back to 1906 or so. It originally housed a theater. However, in the 1940s, the ground floor operated as the Gayway Cafe before becoming the Galway Theatre from the mid-1950s to late 1980s. At some point during its incarnation as the Galway, it became a porno house.