East Bay Times recounts story of Lawman killed in Emeryville in 1897

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Another tale that fortified Emeryville’s well-earned “Rotten City” era reputation has been unearthed by East Bay Times reporter Peter Hegarty. Amateur historian Alfred Janske pieced the story of a fallen lawman together by flipping thorough handwritten records, ancestry websites and old newspapers.

Deputy Constable Denis Cronian, an Alameda County officer, was shot outside of Soule’s saloon where Pixar Animation studios now exists. Cronin succumbed to his injuries eight days later on June 4, 1897. Cronin’s killer, 18-year-old Jimmy “Daffy” Bryan, was apprehended within hours of the shooting at a house on Hollis Street and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin State Prison.

Janice is working to get a headstone for Cronin’s gravesite and his name added to the California Peace Officers Memorial in Sacramento.


Alfred Janske is working to secure a headstone for Denis Cronin, an Alameda County law enforcement officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in June 1897 (Photo: Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)
Alfred Janske is working to secure a headstone for officer Denis Cronin, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in June 1897 (Photo: Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group).

Oakland: Fallen lawman is forgotten no more

By Peter Hegarty

Deputy Constable Denis Cronin was patrolling outside Soule’s saloon that May night in 1897 when a voice called from the darkness, “Hold on, I want you.”

Then a gunshot, and the 24-year-old Cronin collapsed in the street near where Pixar Animation Studios now stands in Emeryville, hit in the spine and lung.

Today, the coldblooded killing of a lawman in the line of duty likely would be met with public mourning, intense media coverage and a massive funeral drawing police officers from across the state, if not nation, followed perhaps by the naming of a stretch of highway in his honor. For Cronin, it meant a quiet burial in an unmarked grave at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oakland.

Read more on EastBayTimes.com →

Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

1 Comment

  1. “Janice is working to get a headstone for Cronin’s gravesite…”

    That should read “Janske”, not “Janice”.

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