“As He Lay Dying,” originally written and published in 2003, details the murder of Henry C. Schaad during the York riots of 1969 and the trial that didn’t end until 33 years later. The piece, by former Daily Record editorial page editor and writing coach Kim Strong, remains the most complete accounting of the events surrounding Schaad’s murder.
two bullets in flight
In a fraction of one second, a firing pin created a small explosion inside the throat of a rifle, thrusting a piece of lead into the spiraled grooves of the barrel and out into the humid night air of July 18, 1969.
Traveling at about 2,400 feet per second, a second bullet chased the first, darting away from a crowd of angry people, past red brick row homes and arcing over York’s College Avenue with speed and purpose.
Both bullets pierced the rear end of an odd-looking brown-and-black police vehicle, destroying the sanctuary in which all three police officers inside had felt safe.
“I’m shot,” gasped the 22-year-old man in the front seat, as gravity pulled him forward. Within seconds, the floor of the police van cradled the motionless body of Henry C. Schaad.
Many people in the crowd at the corner of Penn Street and College Avenue cheered as they watched the van swerve, correct itself and disappear over the Codorus Creek bridge.
That Friday night, two universes in the City of York finally collided – the blue wall of the York Police Department and the young black men who vowed to take this shooting to their graves. For more than a week, they would be locked in a battle.
The insurrection seemed inevitable to the young blacks who believed they and their families had suffered the injustices of police torment far too long. The uprising surprised the police, even though the riots of 1968 should have given them warning. It worried them, too. They knew their lives were threatened. The proof was at York Hospital, where one of their comrades lay dying.
Bobby Simpson: an afternoon congregation
When Bobby Simpson heard the news Friday afternoon that TakaNii Sweeney, a black teenager, had been shot one night earlier, July 17, he headed for the corner of Penn Street and College Avenue, a hangout where news spread rapidly.
Like the branches of a tree ripped off by a tornado, Simpson and many other young black men from the city would swirl around that corner Friday and the days that followed. They would join the fracas for a while then retreat, as Simpson did that day. He was no kid – 23 years old with a wife and a 5-year-old son at home, but he was drawn to the action.
The boy who was ashamed to go to the blackboard in school because he had holes in his pants and cardboard for shoe soles had become a successful man in the black neighborhoods. He was a third-shift worker at Caterpillar, standing up for equal rights inside the workplace just as he did in his hometown.
He had grown up in the ghettos of York, on Hope Alley in a home like all of the others on the street, heated in the winter only by a kitchen wood stove. Simpson, his sister and eight brothers lived with an alcoholic mother. He always knew his father, who lived in York, but the man had little to do with his kids.
The Simpsons lived in an oppressive town, where cops rode the streets yelling, “Niggers, go home” from their cruisers and where a racist mayor put attack dogs in their hands.
The young men Simpson stood with on the corner of Penn and College that Friday afternoon lived parallel lives, raised in impoverished housing developments that Mayor John L. Snyder wouldn’t improve, even when federal money was available for him to do it.
The neighborhoods sandwiched black folks into houses so close, so tight, that they all knew each other. Nothing touched one of them that they didn’t all hear about.
At 6 feet tall, Simpson towered above a number of the men and young boys on that corner. But his size didn’t intimidate them. People felt comfortable around him, he believed. In high school, he had played the unglamorous positions of offensive end and defensive end on the William Penn football team, but his teammates chose him as their captain.
For most of his life, he had been seen as a leader. He would boldly step to the front of any crowd to fight someone who had done wrong. And he would take an unpopular stand at times just to do the right thing.
On this day, he joined a couple of hundred people on that corner, he said. They were talking about Tak, who had been shot after throwing rocks into the Newberry Street Boys’ hangout.
Simpson already knew who had taken Sweeney down with a gunshot to the stomach – a Newberry Street Boy, a white thug named Bobby Messersmith.
But despite the attack, the fight Friday wasn’t with the white gang. It was with the York cops, Simpson said. When kids at the corner of Penn and College threw rocks and bottles at cars carrying white passengers that day, Simpson advised them to stop, he said. Others were shot or just missed the graze of a bullet. Those victims were innocent people. The police were the guilty ones, Simpson believed.
“It’s almost a relief to finally be able to fight them (the police) and come back and say you aren’t going to take this shit any more,” Simpson recalled recently.
They had no real tactic – just carry guns, protect their neighborhoods, and let no cop intimidate them.
After a few hours on the corner Friday after noon, Simpson left for work. He started carrying two 12-gauge shotguns with him, prepared for the worst.
Ron McCoy: Friday night ambush
More city police officers worked Friday nights than any night of the week in 1969. Throngs of people swarmed into the downtown to shop and eat out.
Two officers manned each of the city’s six or seven police cars; other patrolmen walked beats or rode department motorcycles; and the three-wheelers were employed for meter patrol.
Ron McCoy, a 31-year-old white cop in his fourth year with the department, was out riding a beat when a call came in about 10 p.m. that two police officers had been shot at near the corner of Penn and College. All police officers were ordered to meet back at the station.
The police department stored a couple of armored vans at the Vigilant Fire Company on West Market Street. Big Al and Big Bertha had been red and white when they were bank vans but were painted brown and black for use by the city police. They had steel walls that the police be lieved would protect them from gunfire.McCoy was assigned to ride in Big Al with Cpl. Sherman Warner and a young cop named Henry Schaad, a fishing buddy of McCoy’s and the son of Detective Sgt. Russell Schaad.
As Schaad, Warner and McCoy prepared to leave the station, James Brown, one of the cops who had been shot at near the corner, warned the men, “Please stay away from Penn and College. It’s getting hot over there,” he recounted later.
The van looked like a small bus inside. The driver’s seat, where Warner took the wheel, was the only bench facing forward. A short bench in the front faced the driver. Beside it was a door, then a long bench. Behind the driver’s seat was another long bench. Small, rectangular portholes on both sides and the back of the vehicle flipped down to reveal a half circle of metal bars through which the officers had a limited view outside. The only real windows in the van were at the front – the wide, short windshield and two square windows at each side, made of thick glass that didn’t open. Its airtight interior shut out most outside sounds.
McCoy sat in the front passenger seat facing Warner, while Schaad sat on the long bench behind Warner. McCoy had never been inside the ar mored vehicle before, he said. He had never known it to be outside the fire department until that night, when the police department believed their lives were at risk on the streets.
They weren’t in the vehicle long when they were called to a mattress fire on West Hope Avenue. From there, they headed to Pershing and College to rescue a motorcyclist who had been shot while passing the turbulent corner.
As they drove toward the injured motorcyclist, Warner suggested that Schaad move up to the front passenger seat beside McCoy. Warner stopped the vehicle at a red light on Penn then turned onto College Avenue, past the crowd gathered beside Sam’s Bar at the intersection. Since early Friday morning, 19 people had been injured passing by this corner, hit by bricks, stones or bullets aimed at their cars. The three officers wanted to get out of the neighborhood quickly. They had only their service revolvers with them. They were the only weapons the city police used at that time.
Big Al started the short climb toward the bridge that crosses the Codorus Creek when they heard two loud booms. Sitting with his arms in front of him, Schaad tipped forward as he told the men he was shot, then he passed out. McCoy grabbed him and helped him ease onto his back on the floor, worried that Schaad would stop breathing.
Warner radioed the dispatcher that an officer had been shot. A patrol car met the van, which was devoid of a siren or lights, and escorted it to York Hospital.
McCoy took one last look at his young friend as hospital employees placed Schaad on a litter, then he drove the van back to the police department and returned to the streets.
Barry Schaad: a bad night
When Henry Schaad’s older brother walked through the doors of York Hospital close to midnight Friday, the emergency room looked like a triage unit in the middle of a battlefield. Ambu lances lined the road outside, cops milled around inside, and the casualties of York’s war filled the beds.
About two dozen people had been taken to the hospital Friday from full-scale rioting in pockets of the city.
Barry Schaad wandered through the confusion, unsure where he could find his brother and family. He couldn’t get anyone’s attention until, finally, a police officer escorted him to a waiting room.
Already at the hospital were Henry’s mother and wife, Carrie and Sonja Schaad; and Russell, his tall, reserved father.
Russell Schaad had seen real battles in World War II. His tent-mate had been one of the Marines who lifted the flag atop Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima, Japan, made famous by a photograph and later a monument, Barry Schaad said.
As a police officer, he discriminated against no one, Barry said, and he raised his sons to be the same. His youngest, Henry, had too kind and gentle of a spirit to display bias toward others because of their skin color. Both father and son were peace officers.
Although combat and police work didn’t prepare Russell Schaad for his son’s shooting, it gave him an outward appearance of invincibility.
Russell Schaad gently told his middle son, “Boy, I don’t have good news for you, but they’re working on him, and it seems like they pretty much have him under control.”
In the emergency room, doctors X-rayed the muscular young police officer. Bullet wounds had ravaged his otherwise healthy body. Most critical was the bullet trajectory that had punctured both of his lungs, quickly causing pneumonia in both. He also had what appeared to be a compression fracture on his spine that had caused Henry Schaad to lose all feeling below his waist.
Tom Chatman: the morning after
The intersection of Penn Street and College Avenue didn’t settle down until Saturday morning. The shootings and rock-throwing had ended. The crowd had retreated.
At last, York City Detective Sgt. Tom Chatman could begin his investigation into the shooting of Henry Schaad without a threat of violence. To start, he would return to his old neighborhood.
Chatman grew up on the 300 block of South Penn Street. His was one of the first black families in the neighborhood in 1939. As a young boy, he dreamed of three things for his adult life: joining the Marines, becoming a police officer and going to college.
By 1969, at the age of 34, he had accomplished two. Chatman enlisted in the Marines a dozen years after Franklin D. Roosevelt lifted the ban on blacks joining the corps. When Chatman left the service in 1956, he joined the York City Police Department and rose through the ranks – from patrolman to detective to detective sergeant.
Schaad’s shooting one night earlier, Chatman believed, had been a strike on the police department. A number of delinquents had staked out that corner; they had no idea which cops were inside the armored van or what color they were.
“It wasn’t to kill a white cop. It would have been to kill a police officer,” he said.
With 13 years behind him, Chatman had sources throughout the neighborhoods who often provided him with insiders’ details. On Saturday, he turned to an informant on Penn Street, a man who often had solid information but wouldn’t testify in a courtroom. The informant’s tips usually led Chatman to other people who would talk. All Chatman wanted on this day was the name of the shooter – or shooters.
The informant, Chatman said, gave him four names: Stephen D. Freeland, Leon “Smickel” Wright, Michael “Picklenose” Wright and another man who didn’t live in York.
Sonja Schaad 24 hours of waiting
York Hospital in 1969 allowed visitors to see patients in the Intensive Care Unit only five times a day: 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. The Schaads filed in one at a time, quickly using up the 15 minutes allowed for each visit.
Friday night, Henry had been sitting up, telling Sonja, “Lock all the doors and windows when you go home.” By Saturday morning, he was lying in bed with a tube sticking out of his throat. Henry had suffered breathing problems overnight and had needed a tracheotomy, which the staff attached to a respirator, hospital records show.
Beside Henry’s hospital bed was a picture of the couple’s only child, 5-year-old Sharon. She had been in the shower Friday night when her dad had quickly stopped at home to pick up something while on duty. Even though the guys were waiting for him in the police car, Henry gave both of his girls a kiss goodbye – Sharon stuck her head out of the shower for her dad, and Sonja watched him walk out the door.
As he hurried down the hallway, he had told Sonja, “It’s really going to be bad tonight.”
Mike Cronan: a Sunday stroll on the moon
Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. stepped onto the moon’s dusty surface Sunday night, July 20, placed an American flag in the ground and saluted it. Mike Cronan joined millions of viewers who watched the historic landing, sitting in his landlord’s house in York and listening to gunfire in the background. The simultaneous events seemed almost surreal to the young Gazette and Daily reporter.
Cronan’s night shift work during the riots often stretched into the wee hours of the morning, as he drove around the city from shooting to shooting.
He had lived in the city only one year, hired by York’s Gazette and Daily as its police reporter with no experience and a newly earned political science degree. Covering the police beat involved checking in daily with the York City Police Department, a place that he found a little rough and unprofessional, he said. Some of the officers treated him with respect, but a number of them openly showed their disdain for the newspaper.
The Gazette and Daily had a reputation in York for being anti-police. In fact, some people referred to it as Communist propaganda because the politics of its publisher, J.W. Gitt, were so far left.
Cronan said he didn’t have political leanings. He focused on his job as a police reporter at a newspaper in which most of the reporters viewed themselves as “investigative journalists.” They would hunt down whatever they could sniff out. For Cronan, that meant following the police trails, covering arrests and shootings during the riots, talking to witnesses and witnessing some of the action himself.
It felt on that Sunday night that walking on the moon might have been safer than walking the streets of York, even for him.
Karen Washington: safe at home
Cooper Place, an alley close to Penn Park, didn’t hear much of the action that was disrupting York’s peace several blocks away and across the Codorus Creek. Once in a while, the echoes of gunfire came from the area of the park. And like most of the city’s black residents, Karen Washington, 22 and the mother of three young boys, was scared for her children’s safety.
She and her husband moved their TV set to the second floor, afraid that stray bullets might injure someone on the first floor.
She didn’t leave her house much, except to work at the Head Start program, where she took her 4-year-old. To avoid any trouble with the police, the Community Progress Council provided black residents with identification cards with their name and place of work listed. The police never stopped Washington, but she had the card with her during her 6:30 a.m. trip to the school Monday. She could be stopped at any time and needed proof that she had a reason for being outside during the curfew.
Like many black city residents, Washington had heard stories about the police that worried her. A friend of her family’s, William “Mutt” Orr, had been shot on Christmas Eve 1968 while sitting at his kitchen table on South Penn Street. The gunfire had come from outside the house.
The black community believed the police did it. No one ever was arrested.
Washington’s sisters had also seen a police dog attack a black teenager one evening. The German shepherds, which patrolled parts of the city with the K9 unit, scared Washington so much that she would walk in the other direction if she spotted one. It wasn’t worth even walking downtown with the dogs around, she said. Many black residents believed the dogs were trained to attack only them. The police, black residents complained, only took the dogs into black neighborhoods.
Washington blamed the dogs and the police department’s intolerance for blacks on Mayor Snyder, a man who said just what he thought and openly displayed his detest for anyone with black skin. Mayor Snyder headed the chain of command in the police department. Under him was Jacob Hose, the city’s public safety director who oversaw both the police department and the fire department. Police Chief Leonard L. Landis reported to Hose.
About 90 men worked for Landis in the police department; six of them were black. Some black residents referred to those six men as “Toms,” distrusted by some of the people in their own community because it was believed they tolerated the racist actions of some of their peers.
Tom Chatman: a vow of silence
The investigation into who shot Henry Schaad stumbled almost immediately. A vow of silence was already working against Chatman and Sgt. John Creavey, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper assigned to the case Monday morning, as they searched for witnesses and evidence.
The young black men on the corner of Penn and College knew that a police officer might die from his wounds of Friday night. They knew who fired the shots, but they promised one another to take the names to their graves.
Other people were talking, though. Creavey interviewed Barbara Gaines, a black woman who lived at 244 S. Penn St. She said she saw Stephen D. Freeland fire his gun at the armored car.
Those who were talking said Freeland, a 17-year-old boy, had a big rifle that night that made a big sound. It was a .30-40 Krag, an obsolete, bolt-action military weapon.
But getting people to admit what they had witnessed was a big leap from compelling them to go on the record and testify in a court of law. They were scared for themselves and their families. They feared retribution.
Sonja Schaad: disturbing the silence
The heat of July 21 smothered York so uncom fortably that most people stayed outside if they felt safe. Russell and Carrie Schaad and their daughter-in-law, Sonja, tried to relax on the Schaads’ West North Street porch that Monday evening. Sonja didn’t want to stay at home, around the corner on Park Street, while her husband was in the hospital, so she stayed where she felt safe, with her in-laws.
Henry’s health faded and improved day to day.
Russell, Carrie and Sonja Schaad stayed by Henry’s side as long as the hospital would allow them each day. When Henry was awake, he would try to talk, but the tracheotomy made him hard to understand.
The hospital staff believed his condition was improving slightly. His chest tubes, attached to each lung, were removed for a short time, but it became hard for him to breathe. He had pneumothorax – gas in the tissue around his lung – on his left side, and hospital records show Henry’s body temperature slowly rose as it fought all the metal and bullet fragments still in him.
July 21, nurses used Demerol to ease his pain and help him rest because he was sweating profusely and tossing in bed, records show.
On West North Street, the Schaads had little on their minds other than Henry. The night seemed so still, until about 9 p.m., when a series of gunshots broke the silence.
“Oh my gosh, it sounds like a war over there,” Sonja said, as they heard shots just a few blocks away.
Russell Schaad’s police scanner broke the news: A woman had been shot on North Newberry Street.
Bobby Simpson: a night near death
Bobby Simpson read about Lillie Belle Allen’s death Tuesday morning.
The black South Carolina woman had been in York for a short visit when she was killed by a single bullet Monday night.
Her sister, Hattie Dickson, had driven her car up North Newberry Street on the way to the store. Allen, their parents, and Dickson’s husband had been in the car, when Dickson stopped the car on the railroad tracks because she noticed someone with a gun pointed at them. Allen said she would take the wheel and got out of the car with her hands in the air, saying, “Don’t shoot.” A single gunshot slammed into her, followed rapidly by the firing of many more.
The white gangs hanging out on North Newberry Street that night weren’t the problem. The cops were, Simpson believed. The police were encouraging the young white boys to fight blacks. Several cops had staged a rally at Farquhar Park the day before, telling the white gangs to protect their neighborhoods. They even used Schaad’s shooting to incite the boys, showing them the officer’s blood in the armored van.
The German shepherds used in the black neighborhoods never patrolled North Newberry Street or any other white neighborhood in town. That pattern followed in cities across the country – dogs were being used to go after black people.
When York’s black residents had protested at City Hall, the mayor wouldn’t even walk outside to see them.
The wall between black residents and the Establishment of city government and the city’s elite was so high that the black community’s youngest and most vocal residents had stopped trying to climb over it. Instead, they were trying to blast it away. Simpson was an activist, a leader among many of the young black men in York, unafraid to question the authority that was holding his brothers back.
Through Simpson’s eyes, the police were firing back, some of them through the guns of white gangs.
Simpson and his wife, Linda, lived in a corner house at 212 Green St. with their son, Mark. Simpson didn’t hear the rumors going through the neighborhoods that his brother-in-law, Linda’s younger brother, Stephen Freeland, had been the guy who shot at the police van, he said. Freeland was several years younger and ran with a different crowd. Simpson knew Freeland as a kid who loved giving to his family and friends the rabbits he had hunted.
Simpson had his own problems to worry about.
On one of the days after the Allen shooting, the Simpsons had just laid down in bed when he and his wife heard the rumble of armored vans coming up the road, a noise they had become accustomed to. He heard no other sounds until gunfire erupted outside their home.
Simpson rolled his wife toward him, protecting her as they fell to the floor. The unrelenting beating of bullets into their house brought Mark running into his parents’ bedroom, where he jumped onto the bed. Simpson pulled him to the floor, where they all remained, waiting the five to 10 minutes it took for the assault to end.
Simpson couldn’t look out the window to see who was trying to kill his family because he could become yet another victim of these riots. And when the assault was over, he felt he could not call the police. It would have been futile.
They stayed on the floor and slept there all night.
The next morning, Simpson found 40 to 50 pumpkin ball bullets in the walls and lodged in the bricks of his home. Who would do this to him?
His neighbor, who had arrived home during the shooting, had seen everything. He had the answer: Two armored cars pulled up outside Simpson’s house, one on Green Street and the other on an alley. Police officers jumped out and emptied their rifles on Simpson’s home.
Bill Schintz: a photographer held back
While York residents viewed The Gazette and Daily as too liberal and anti-police, The York Dispatch’s reputation swung the other way.
Owned by the Youngs, a longtime York County family, the Dispatch tried to avoid just what people accused The Gazette and Daily of doing: stirring up trouble. A conservative newspaper, the Dispatch even looked different.
The Gazette and Daily was smaller in length and breadth and had fewer pages. It had a harder time attracting advertisers because of its liberal reputation, while the Dispatch was a full-size broadsheet with national news on its front page and local news on the back, stuffed with advertisements.
The Dispatch paid Bill Schintz, the son of a retired police officer and childhood friend of Henry Schaad, for each photo he took. The newspaper didn’t hire photographers because it didn’t publish many photos, so it paid freelancers to do the work. Most of the Dispatch’s photographs of the riots appeared inside the newspaper. A number of them were from Schintz – of the National Guard and tense city meetings.
One day during the riots, when a Dispatch editor asked Schintz to check out an incident in the city, Schintz found nothing going on, but he noticed a boy riding down the street with a rifle strapped to his back. He took the boy’s picture as he was riding away. When Schintz showed the photo to the editors, they told him to run it by the vice president of the Dispatch, Robert L. Young.
Young took one look at the photo and refused it, saying, “We don’t want to incite any more trouble than what there is.”
Carl ‘Johnny’ Williams: a legacy of fear
The National Guard’s 200 men arrived in York Tuesday, July 22, along with a downpour. Both seemed to drive the snipers indoors. Carl “Johnny” Williams didn’t need the threat of National Guard personnel carriers to keep him inside his 127 E. Boundary Ave. house. He worked the first shift at Caterpillar, drove home and stayed there with his wife and 4-year-old son through the rioting. He didn’t carry a gun even once during the riots because he didn’t own one, he said.
His fear of the police ran just as deep as his hate for them.
Four years earlier, Williams’ father, Carl E. Williams Sr., had been found dead at Small Athletic Field in York. When Williams identified his father at York Hospital’s morgue, Carl’s face was swollen, bruised and lacerated. He had clearly been beaten, Williams said, but the family had no idea who would have done it.
Witnesses told the Williams family that two police officers had picked up Carl for public drunkenness at College Avenue and Howard Street, Williams said. His entry into the police car was the last time he was seen alive. Two days later, a hunter found Carl’s body in the field. A police blackjack was found near the body.
The two patrolmen denied they had picked up Carl, but two witnesses picked the cops out of a lineup. They admitted later to having picked him up and dropped him off at Small Field, but they denied any responsibility for his death, Williams said. They were suspended from the force for initially lying.
An autopsy listed his death as a heart attack; the director of the funeral home where he was taken told the family he had been beaten severely, Williams said.
When York’s black residents talked of police siccing dogs on them and beating them with nightsticks, Williams believed every word. He didn’t trust the York Police Department, and he didn’t join the crowds toying with the cops on this week. If you pushed the cops, he believed, they would push back harder. They did it to his childhood friend, Bobby Simpson.
Williams had touched the pumpkin ball holes in the walls of Simpson’s house that week. He believed that Simpson’s leadership and activism had made him a target by certain police officers.
The young black men who had been carrying guns since TakaNii Sweeney’s shooting five nights earlier laid low when the National Guard rolled into town. The machine guns on the backs of their vehicles could blow a hole through a building. No one even wanted to blink at these guys.
Barry Schaad: a night in the ICU
The days passed for Barry Schaad. He’d work at Borg-Warner, then visit the hospital each night, twice a day on Saturday and Sunday. He waited to see Henry but couldn’t. The hospital allotted so little time for the family that Barry’s parents and sister-in-law took what time was available.
When Barry went into the family’s waiting room Wednesday or Thursday, his father finally told him that he could visit Henry. Russell Schaad prepared him for what he would find. The doctor was performing tests on Henry; he might be paralyzed.
This was the boy who had tagged along with Barry as a young kid, collecting soda bottles and newspapers to exchange for money. They would save the money to buy Christmas presents for their parents.
A few years after Henry’s birth, Russell got custody of his two boys, Russell and Barry, from his first marriage. Russell, like his dad, loved hunting and fishing. Barry loved sports, and Henry enjoyed all three. He had grown to be a tall young man, 6 feet 2 inches, gentle and reserved, like his father, and handsome.
Outside Henry’s room, a National Guardsman kept watch, after word had filtered back to Russell Schaad that someone was threatening to kill Henry in the hospital.
Barry adored the young man in the hospital bed clinging to life. Tubes ran in and out of Henry’s body, but he was conscious.
Barry clutched Henry’s hand and recited a prayer.
The doctor stuck needles into the 22-year-old’s legs and feet, asking him if he could feel the pricks. Henry said he could feel something. The doctor explained to Barry that he could probably feel the pressure on his body but not the needle.
Henry looked at his brother and said, “Don’t go down there.”
Barry knew what he meant: Avoid the riots. Henry’s concern choked up his brother. Here Henry was in the hospital barely alive, and if he survived all this, he would be paralyzed. Despite all the uncertainty he faced, Henry’s concern was for his brother’s safety.
Henry turned to his side, and the doctor told Barry that he should probably leave.
It was the last time Barry saw his brother alive.
Bobby Simpson put the guns away
In a chance encounter on a street corner, Bobby Simpson learned from a friend that a fight had been planned between some of the blacks and the white gangs. The guys from the neighbor hood thought Simpson had organized it. After years of being seen as a leader, Simpson came to terms that day with the weight of that responsibil ity. A fight with the gangs would mean a fight with the cops, too. The black boys would be massacred, Simpson believed.
So he played along that it was his idea in order to turn the plan around. He told the boy he had changed his mind, that he didn’t want anyone from the neighborhoods to fight any of the white boys.
That night he gathered his friends in the basement of his Green Street home and put his two 12-gauge shotguns into a box.
He told the guys, “Look, we’ve had enough. We’ve got to turn things around.”
His friends put their guns in the box, too.
His brother-in-law, Stephen Freeland, was not there.
Lillie Belle Allen was dead. TakaNii Sweeney still languished in York Hospital from the stomach wound inflicted on July 17, and other blacks had gone in and out of the emergency room from wounds of York’s war. Bullets had ravaged Simpson’s home and threatened his wife and son.
Simpson wanted to end his involvement in York’s insurrection. He didn’t want anyone’s blood on his hands.
Mike Cronan beaten down
The Newberry Street Boys were willing to talk, and Mike Cronan had his notebook out, ready to listen Friday afternoon, July 25.
The National Guard and the rain had quieted the violence for four straight days. Dozens of people had been injured, Lillie Belle Allen was already buried in her native Aiken, S.C., and the hospital listed Henry Schaad as being in serious condition.
Cronan was shaken by Allen’s death. She was an innocent victim of this violence – on the wrong street at the wrong time, the mother of two young children. It was heartbreaking.
He wanted to hear the story of what happened the night she was killed from the white gang members on North Newberry Street.
“The woman that was shot was in a car with guns,” the Newberry Street Boys told Cronan. They also told The Gazette and Daily police reporter that patrolmen allowed them on the streets on the nights before the state police and National Guard arrived in town “because the cops are okay and they understand the problems of the people in the area.”
Cronan talked to other people in the North Newberry Street neighborhood. Some blamed the white gang violence on “kids being kids”; others defended them: “The Newberry street kids are defending the neighborhood against outsiders.”
One source, “a mother of four children,” saw the shooting and said “the woman didn’t have a chance.”
His story appeared on page 4 of Monday’s Gazette and Daily. When the Newberry Street Boys saw it, they didn’t like what they read. It brought the cops into their homes, looking for weapons.
A few days later as Mike Cronan walked home from work after midnight, he noticed guys standing in doorways along the 300 block of West Market Street. As he walked past, they all moved into the middle of the street at once, one guy swinging a chain above his head. With Cronan’s attention diverted on the chain, some of the guys approached him from behind, knocking him to the ground, kicking him in the head and ribs.
The Newberry Street Boys had a not-so-subtle message: Cronan shouldn’t have written the story.
According to Fred Flickinger, one of the Newberry Street Boys who testified at a civil hearing later, a patrol car sat across the street while Cronan was beaten. The officer didn’t move to take the reporter to the hospital until the gang had finished beating him.
Tom Chatman a search for evidence
The highest-ranking black officer at the York Police Department had confrontations on a few occasions with other officers over racist remarks. In fact, after six months on the force, patrolmen joined the Fraternal Order of Police, but the black cops, including Chatman, were blackballed from joining. Black officers all across the country faced the same discrimination. They were usually assigned to patrol – on foot – only black neigh borhoods.
The racism label that blanketed the department, though, didn’t follow what Chatman and several of his fellow officers – white and black – saw on the inside. Only a small number of the officers were overt racists, Chatman said.
The kids who shot Henry Schaad were using race to justify their horrific crime, he thought. Most of the black community had no involvement in the rioting or shootings. Most of the black elders didn’t believe in the violent means used to achieve an end.
“People out there on that night were not choirboys,” he said.
Chatman found another informant who thought he could get his hands on the Krag rifle that Freeland used July 18, but he was never able to do it. The police determined, though, that the Krag would have been strong enough to blast through the armored car’s 1/8th-inch steel walls.
Without the physical evidence in hand, the investigation could go nowhere. A third-class city, as York is designated because of its population, couldn’t in 1969 assemble an investigative grand jury. The jury would have forced people to talk on the record, Chatman said.
No evidence, no cooperative eyewitnesses, no case for attempted murder.
Sonja Schaad: goodbye
The sound of someone crying in the back yard on Wednesday, July 30, carried into the Schaad’s house. It was Russell Schaad. He had taken Carrie to their doctor because she needed something to calm her nerves. The doctor had delivered bad news: It didn’t seem Henry would live more than a day or two longer. His fever was high, and he was losing his battle with pneumonia. Russell held that information from Sonja that night.
Sonja had been to Henry’s room Wednesday. It was hard for him to talk, but he tried anyway. He had something to tell his wife. Both were shy. Showing their love for one another in public made them uncomfortable, so if hospital workers were in the room with them, Henry would be reluctant to display any intimacy.
But they adored one another. Sonja believed when they got married that they would raise their daughter and their grandchildren together.
Wednesday night, Henry insisted that she be in his room.
As she looked down at her husband, tears fell down his cheeks.
He said, “I’m dying.”
Sonja changed the subject to their daughter, Sharon, and fixed his covers.
The next day, Henry’s eyes remained closed through Sonja’s visit. She whispered, “I love you,” in his ear repeatedly, but he didn’t stir. As she finally prepared to leave, the nurse noticed her walking out.
Perhaps the nurse was aware of what this night would mean to Sonja for years to come: “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”
Sonja said goodbye to her husband, the love of her life, and left.
At 4:45 Friday morning, Aug. 1, Henry Schaad died.
epilogue: in a bullet’s wake
In 1999, three police officers began their exhaustive three-year investiga tions into the murders of Henry C. Schaad and Lillie Belle Allen. Those officers were: Rodney George, a York County detective and former York police officer; John Daryman, now retired as a York County detective and also a former York police officer; and Keith Stone, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
A grand jury investigation into the murders of Allen and Schaad initiated the arrests of 12 men. The two men charged with murder for killing Schaad were Stephen D. Freeland and Leon “Smickel” Wright. Freeland, who had been in jail on a drug conviction, and Wright, who had been in and out of jail, stood trial in March of this year. Prosecuted by Bill Graff, both were found guilty of second-degree murder.
In April, they were sentenced by President Judge John H. Chronister. Freeland, who took the stand at his trial and sentencing, received nine to 19 years; Wright, who did not speak or testify on his own behalf, received 4 1/2 to 10 years.
Michael “Picklenose” Wright testified against his brother, Leon Wright, in the trial, admitting that they and two other men shot at the armored vehicle on July 18, 1969. Michael Wright has not been arrested for the crime.
The other man named by the informant in 1969 as being one of the shooters is dead.
Tom Chatman interviewed Freeland in the fall of 1969 after the boy had been imprisoned on another crime. Freeland wouldn’t talk. Chatman and other officers interviewed everyone suspected in the case anytime they were arrested for other crimes, and police searched fruitlessly for the Krag each time weapons were confis cated in the city. Chatman retired from the York Police Department in 1986 after a stint as the police chief. He also earned his college degree from York College. He now works at the York County Courthouse for Judge John C. Uhler, who presided over the grand jury in the Lillie Belle Allen and Henry Schaad cases as well as the trial of three defendants in the Allen murder.
Mike Cronan quit his job at The Gazette and Daily in the fall of 1969, traveled a little and landed at the University of California at Irvine, where he received his master of fine arts in creative writing. He followed his girlfriend (later, his wife) to the University of Michigan, where he received his engineering degree. Cronan became a structural engineer, moved to Texas and is now the director of research development and grant writing at Texas A&M University.
Ron McCoy retired from the York Police Department in 1981, worked as a deputy sheriff for a while and now works part time in security. He testified about his night in the armored van during the 2003 trial of Freeland and Wright.
Bill Schintz saw Henry Schaad for the last time when he took photographs at his autopsy. Those photographs and others he took during the riots were used as evidence against Freeland and Wright. Schintz continues his passion for photography as the owner of an East Market Street photo studio in York.
Bobby Simpson joined a civil suit in 1969 against the city police. He accused the police of the attack on his home during the riots. The judge in that suit said the plaintiffs did not have enough evi dence. Simpson left Caterpillar in 1979 to become the executive director of Crispus Attucks Community Center. He is credited with reviving what had been a failing community organization and turning it into a nationally recognized campus of successful programs. Simpson and his wife, Linda, raised three children, now adults.
John L. Snyder’s reign as mayor of York ended in October 1969 when he died in office of an aneurysm.
Karen Washington is now Karen Brown. The mother of three is now a grandmother, still living in the city. She has worked at Head Start for more than three decades.
Carl “Johnny” Williams raised three children – the son who was a toddler during the riots and, later, two daughters. Williams retired from Caterpillar and now works part time at Crispus Attucks. In 2002, the Williams family had Carl Sr.’s body exhumed and studied for evidence of a beating. The forensic pathologist, James E. Starrs, could not say definitively that he was beaten to death, but he couldn’t rule it out, either. The family gave the evidence to another pathologist for examination. Williams never told his son what had happened to his father because he didn’t want his son to carry the hate in his heart for police that Williams feels to this day. His son is now a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
The Gazette and Daily changed ownership in 1970 and was renamed the York Daily Record. The Dispatch changed ownership in 1988. One year later, the two newspapers entered into a joint operating agreement that created one sales, printing and circulation staff for both newspapers but kept the newsrooms autonomous. While the two newspapers seemed to have drawn different pictures of what happened in 1969, both papers in the years since have kept the story alive through anniversary coverage of the riots.
After Henry died Friday, Aug. 1, his family pleaded for peace and an end to the violence. The City of York has not seen a racial riot since.
Barry Schaad married and eventually adopted two children from Korea.
Russell Schaad, Henry’s half-brother, died in 1988 of cancer.
Russell Schaad reluctantly retired from the police department in 1972, anguished that he would be further from his son’s murder investiga tion. The city was tightening its budget and asked senior officers to take voluntary retirement. Russell ran for sheriff that year but lost, so he started the Schaad Detective Agency. The police continued to give him what little information they had over the years, and tips occasional ly filtered in to Russell. He never shared those tips or names of suspects with his family, protecting them until his death in 1977 at age 56 of a heart attack.
His wife, Carrie, is still alive. The depth of her grief anguished her for years after Henry died, and she was never able to talk of it much. She pulled the shades in her home and went out very little for sever al years, even declining invitations to take a drive for ice cream because Henry had loved it so much. She didn’t attend the trial of the two men convicted of his murder because she had been recuperating from a stroke, but Barry told her that two men were convicted of the crime and asked her if she was happy with that. She said, “Yes, I always wanted someone to pay for killing Henry. Do you mean they’re going to jail?” Barry told her they were, and she said, “Good, that’s what I always wanted.”
Sonja Schaad kept a promise to Henry that he asked of her one day about a month before he died. He said that if anything ever happened to him, she should remarry, but he wanted his daughter to keep his proper name. Sonja married Emerson Gilmore, and in 1971 they had twins, Stacie and Tracie. They later divorced.
Sharon Schaad married and had two children, who would have made Henry Schaad a grandfather. Now Sharon Schaad Howe, she accompanied her uncle, Barry, and mother to each day of the Freeland and Wright trial. At the sentencing, Sharon and Barry both spoke to the judge. Carrie Schaad accompanied them, silently observing from her wheelchair.
Henry Schaad was buried with full honors on a rainy morning, Aug. 4, 1969, with his family and comrades openly mourning the end of his short life. Police even traveled from out of state to join the procession and the 21-gun salute. Wearing his wedding ring, police hat and uniform, the only York officer killed in the line of duty was laid into the ground at Prospect Hill Cemetery, where he rests in peace.