Police Chief Mathew Mantoni

    Incident Details
    Cause of Death: Gunfire
    Date of Incident: Wednesday, January 11, 1950
    Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
    Suspect Info: Released from prison
    Incident Description
    Chief Mathew Mantoni was shot and killed after responding to a disturbance at a local bar at 0030 hours. As he entered
    the bar one of the patrons opened fire and struck him. Chief Mantoni returned fire and wounded the suspect. A female
    bystander was also shot and killed in the exchange of gunfire. The suspect was convicted of both murders, served his
    35-year sentence, and was released.

    Chief Mantoni was survived by his wife, son, and three daughters. He was born in Italy and is buried in Swandale
    Cemetery, Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

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    Police Chief Mathew Mantoni Memorial Dedication Address to the People of Mendon by Lindsey Kempton,
    May 15, 1999

    Chief Grady
    Members of the Mendon Police Department
    The Board of Selectmen
    The Mantoni Family
    Honorable Senator Moore
    Honorable State Representative Parente
    Retired Chief Townsend
    And all in attendance.

    Greetings:

    About six weeks ago, Chief Grady asked me to participate in this ceremony, a Memorial Dedication for Mendon Police
    Chief Mathew Mantoni.

    He asked me to look into the events that resulted in the tragic shooting death of Chief Mathew Mantoni on January 11th,
    1950.

    I did this and in doing so,  stepped back in time.

    The Mendon Police Department of the 1950's was a different world than today. Funding was minimal. Mendon didn't
    own any Police cruisers.

    The Chief and his Officers used their own cars and purchased their own uniforms. They worked on a part-time basis --
    and were paid hourly.

    Communications were by telephone only. Two-way radios  were still in the future for Mendon. Police Chiefs worked out
    of their homes and often times their wives took the calls.

    Mathew Mantoni served the town as a deputy fire chief,  was elected to the position of Constable,  and appointed, by
    the Board of Selectmen,  as Chief of Police. In order to support his family,  Chief Mantoni had to work another full-time
    job.

    If an emergency occurred while the Chief was at work a part-time Officer would be called until the Chief could arrive. But
    at night it was the Chief who answered and responded to the calls.

    He responded to both the frivolous and the dangerous, usually without any backup. It was in this way that Mendon
    Police Chief Mathew Mantoni got up out of bed and responded to a call during the early morning hours of January 11th,
    1950.

    The owner of a local tavern (The Red Rooster), here in town, was called every night by his wife to chat and see how
    things were going. The owner and his wife shared a secret code word if things were not right.

    That night the word was spoken, his wife called the Chief and Mendon Police Chief Matthew Mantoni responded -- the
    rest is history.

    Public service is a Calling. It was then, and it is now.

    The times have changed, Mendon has changed.

    Our police department is better funded; we have full-time police officers, cruisers, and radios. Mendon is a wonderful
    town. But then as now there were good guys and bad guys.

    Mathew Mantoni is a true Mendon hero.

    He took the Oath of Office, served our town, and paid the supreme price.

    In honoring Chief Mantoni, who gave his life in the line of duty, we also honor all who have served the Town and worn
    the Uniform.

    We pray that this never happens again.

    Lindsey Kempton
    May 15, 1999


    In a notable case, in 1950, he and his law partner Maurice E. Fitzgerald represented Harold Ward of Mendon, who had
    been indicted for murder of the Mendon Chief of Police, as well as a patron in a shooting at the Red Rooster in
    Mendon. Mr. Ward was found innocent by reason of insanity, spent many years in facilities for treatment of his disorder
    and was eventually released back to the community.

     
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    Thanks to Paul Doucette for sending this story, including what you see in this space, as well as the news stories from
    papers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Missouri and the pictures below. Thanks to Doug Taylor who assisted Paul with
    information for this page.

                                           
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