Memorializing Local Fallen Officers

Memorializing Local Fallen Officers

Monday Apr 19th, 2021

Remembering two Police Officers who died in 1949: Leo Waldinger and Walter May

"Both men have family in Erie, many of them elderly, with memories of the deaths of their loved ones.

Here’s a rundown on the event that took their lives:

On November 18, 1949 Sergeant Leo Waldinger and Patrolman Walter May were shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a hostage taker at the G. Daniel Baldwin Building (now Renaissance Centre) at 10th and State Streets. An irate WWII veteran had taken a US Veterans Administration director hostage at the location. Sergeant Waldinger, who was off duty (heading home after his shift) but responded to the call anyway, and Patrolman May arrived at the scene at the same time and attempted to persuade the suspect to release the hostage. When the officers saw an opening, they attempted to rush the suspect but were both shot and fatally wounded. Both officers were transported to a local hospital where they succumbed to their injuries several days later: Leo Waldinger, November 26, 1949, and Walter May, November 30, 1949. The suspect was apprehended and committed to a mental hospital. He died at age 65 on December 16, 1986, at Warren State Hospital.

Sergeant Waldinger, age 37 and Marine Corps veteran, had served with the Erie Police Department for seven years. He was survived by his wife and children. Patrolman May, age 45, had served with the Erie Police Department for 22 years. He was survived by his wife and six children, the youngest being Thomas May, Pennsylvania State Police, Retired.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a representative of the FOP who felt that the Brotherhood would be in favor of a project to memorialize the deaths of Sgt. Waldinger and Ptlm. May. Afterwards, I reached out to Tom Kennedy, owner of the Renaissance Centre. Tom, a Military Vet and supporter of public safety, offered his assent to the placement of a memorial plaque on the building at 10th and State (1001 State)"

-Joe Weindorf