⏲︎ This article is more than a year old.

On March 31, Lt. William Lebo was fatally shot while responding to a domestic dispute.

He is the third member of the Lebanon force to give his life in the line of duty. Two others, Chief Aaron McCord and Patrolman Cyrus Shaeffer, preceded him in death by well over a century, the former having been shot in 1890 and the latter in 1903.

As we celebrate the life of Lt. Lebo, so too we recall the lives of McCord and Shaeffer. The circumstances of the lives and deaths of these officers are included here as a memorial to their service and a tribute to their time serving the people of Lebanon. They, along with Lt. Lebo, will be remembered for more than their sacrifice – they will be known as family men, defenders of the community, and keepers of the peace.

Read More: Community celebrates Lt. William Lebo’s life and service

At the funeral of Cyrus Shaeffer, Reverend J.K. Sandt of Trinity Lutheran Church quoted Jeremiah 48:17 – “All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken.”

Aaron McCord

Aaron McCord had been on the Lebanon police force for nine years. Several weeks prior to his death, he had been promoted to chief of police by Lebanon Mayor Peter Weimer.

McCord had a wife, Louisa, along with an adult daughter and two sons, and a public fund was raised for his family in the months after his funeral. He was 41 years old and part of several social groups, including Lebanon Valley Castle No. 6, Knights of the Mystic Chain, and the Uniform Rank.

His funeral was attended by some 1,500 people who paid their respects to the fallen chief. He was buried in Mount Lebanon Cemetery.

McCord was shot by local butcher Andrew L. Shirk on March 27, 1890. The killing was covered by the Lebanon Daily News the next day. Shirk, a 36-year-old butcher, had been drinking heavily throughout the day and openly carrying two revolvers around town; he was known to have an “addiction to strong drink.”

Shirk attracted the attention of police at around 10 p.m. when he fired a bullet into a “box standing on the pavement” in front of the Central Hotel, which was located on the corner of Eighth and Cumberland streets. Though the police were alerted, Shirk had wandered off by the time they arrived at the hotel.

About an hour passed and Shirk, still drunk, approached the restaurant and bar at the Eagle Hotel on Ninth Street. Shirk vomited in front of the entryway, attracting the attention of bartender Lincoln Light. Light told Shirk to avoid vomiting in front of the entrance and Shirk responded by cursing him and attempting to shoot him a few moments later; the shot missed Light.

Lebanon Daily News, March 28, 1890.

Shirk wandered off again. A small group of men, including Joseph Lemberger, Andrew Moore, and McCord, found Light closing up the restaurant. Light explained that Shirk had just passed through and attempted to shoot him. Shirk, apparently having wandered back again with a few friends, came onto the group of men and began to argue with Light.

At this point, McCord told Shirk that he would have to arrest him for the shootings. Shirk, who denied Light’s allegations, reluctantly went with McCord and the two exited the group. Moments later, according to Light, a shot was heard in the vicinity of Eighth and Cumberland streets.

According to a witness’s testimony at Shirk’s trial, Shirk had suddenly torn himself away from McCord’s grip on his arm, and when McCord reached for him again, Shirk raised his revolver and fired. A nearby officer named Young found McCord in the street and transported him to a nearby drug store, where doctors Andrew Gloninger and Samuel Meily attended to the fallen chief. He had been shot in the head and the bullet could not be found, and he died shortly afterward at the Lebanon Good Samaritan hospital. In 1903, Dr. Gloninger would also attend to Patrolman Cyrus Shaeffer at the end of his life.

Shirk had fled the scene and forced a stableman at gunpoint to give him a horse, which he rode out of town. He was arrested hours later in Hummelstown and brought back into Lebanon by train the next afternoon. In June, he was sentenced to 12 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Prior to becoming a butcher, Shirk had been a painter. He had a wife and child.

Cyrus Shaeffer

Late on Feb. 14, 1903, Patrolman Cyrus Schaeffer was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend murderer David Shaud.

Shaeffer, according to a biographical sketch published by the Lebanon Daily News, had previously worked as a coal miner in Minersville, Schuylkill County. Though he had worked there for years and was well experienced with the hard labor in the mines, he reportedly made little money and struggled with debt owed to the company store. Five years before his death, he moved to Lebanon and began working at the mills of the American Iron and Steel Co. before joining the force.

Lebanon Daily News, Feb. 16, 1903.

The 36-year-old man was reported to be intelligent, friendly, and popular with children and adults alike, and he was the tallest policeman in Lebanon at 6’3”. “During the winter it was common sight to see him entertaining a host of little girls and boys, pulling them up and down Fifth street on sleds,” reported the LDN. Shaeffer had a wife and two boys, whose names are not recorded in the paper. As had been done for the family of Aaron McCord, a fund was started to raise money for the bereaved family.

Shaeffer was a member of the Knights of the Mystic Chain. In spite of a blizzard, his funeral was well attended by the public, including the entire Lebanon police force. Shaeffer was buried in Minersville.

The circumstances leading up to his death began in the summer of 1902, when David Shaud and an accomplice broke into the home of John Brownsweiger and stole $350, the “savings of a lifetime.” Shaud was in fact part of Brownsweiger’s extended family; he had married Rosie Brownsweiger and the two lived with two children in an addition to the Brownsweiger home on Walnut Street.

John Brownsweiger’s stepdaughter Ida Becker was present at the time of the burglary, and she and her mother identified Shaud as the culprit in his trial. Shaud was convicted in December largely because of Becker’s testimony. In the time leading up to the trial as well as after the conviction, Shaud had repeatedly made threats against Becker’s life, accusing her of lying at the trial.

Lebanon Daily News, Feb. 16, 1903.

On Feb. 14, Shaud armed himself with two revolvers and located Ida and her husband of three weeks, Ira, at the Park Hotel on Locust Street, where he waited until nightfall. Ida’s aunt, Harriett Houck, relayed a message from Shaud to the couple shortly before 10 p.m. The gunman claimed he wanted to talk with Ida outside. The Beckers refused the request.

The couple, along with several family members and friends, left the hotel a little while later and began walking home along Locust Street. At Sixth Street, they encountered Shaud, who first attempted to shoot Ira. The revolver failed twice, however, and he then turned and shot Ida before fleeing the scene.

Ida’s wound was fatal and she died within minutes. A crowd gathered on Sixth Street while Ira alerted the police, who began searching for Shaud. Among the officers who responded to the murder was Cyrus Shaeffer, who met with policeman Melvin Miller and George Boyer and County Detective Aaron Sattazahn outside the Shaud residence several blocks away from the scene of the crime.

Lebanon Daily News, Feb. 17, 1903.

Shaud’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Brownsweiger, had told the police that he had arrived home. Shaeffer, Boyer, and Sattazahn approached the house and spoke with Shaud’s wife Rosie, who refused to say whether or not Shaud was inside. She granted the officers access to the house but requested that she be able to leave with her two daughters while they searched.

While Miller and Sattazahn stood guard at the two entryways into the Shaud residence, Shaeffer, followed by Boyer, climbed up the stairway into the second floor, armed with revolvers and using a handheld lamp for light. Shaud was nowhere to be found in either of the floor’s bedrooms, and so Shaeffer began climbing up the stairway to the attic.

As he stooped under the low entryway, Shaeffer was shot twice by Shaud, who was armed and waiting above the stairs. Shaeffer fell and cried out that he had been shot; Shaud then shouted to Boyer that he would shoot him as well if he attempted to climb into the attic. Boyer returned downstairs to alert the others.

Lebanon Daily News, Feb. 17, 1903.

The officers downstairs reconvened. The upper floors had been thrown back into darkness when Shaeffer had been shot and dropped the lamp he was holding. Though he was still alive, his life was fading quickly. The officers made multiple attempts to retrieve him but were continually rebuffed by Shaud, who violently threatened further shootings. Dr. Andrew Gloninger, Lebanon’s leading surgeon and founder of the Lebanon Sanitorium, arrived on the scene and volunteered to risk the danger to attend to Shaeffer, but was persuaded not to by the others. Gloninger had pronounced Ida Becker dead shortly before arriving at the Shaud residence.

After around a half hour of taunts and threats from Shaud, he said he would surrender if he could speak to his wife. Rosie had been staying in the main Brownsweiger house and was summoned by the officers. Concealed from Shaud, she spoke to him and convinced him to surrender his revolvers; however, he refused to throw them from the attic window.

Lebanon Daily News, Feb. 16, 1903.

While the officers deliberated, Shaud recognized the voice of former Constable John Sohn and told the group that he would hand over the revolvers to Sohn if he entered the attic unarmed and with a lamp. Sohn accepted and made his way up to the attic, where he picked up the weapons from Shaud. Once the upper floors were secured, Gloninger and the other officers found Shaeffer, who died minutes later.

Shaud plead guilty and was hanged in the Lebanon jail yard on the morning of July 7. According to the LDN report on the execution, the hanging was viewed by around 400 spectators. The killings of Becker and Shaeffer caused an uproar in Lebanon, exacerbated by Shaud’s apparently remorseless attitude in the months leading up to his execution. At 28 years old, Shaud had already served a term in the Eastern State Penitentiary and was known for various other crimes in the region.

According to Ida Becker’s mother, who goes unnamed in the Lebanon Daily News report, Ida and the rest of the family were afraid of Shaud and knew he was capable of murder. He had had “no trade” and a poor reputation. Though his surname by birth was Short, he changed it to Shaud following the death of his father.

Shaud’s hanging is reported to be the last ever conducted in the county.

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Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...