A new permanent memorial to Olean Police Capt. Timothy Hassett, the only officer in the city’s history to be killed in the line of duty, will be rededicated at 124 N. Union St. — the Masonic Temple building — at noon Sunday.
Hassett was investigating a burglary on Feb. 21, 1909, when he was shot and killed — 111 years ago.
Sometime after 4 a.m. on that fateful date, an operator of the Union Telephone Company placed a call to police headquarters because she believed another office in the Masonic Temple building was being burglarized.
Hassett, 46, was at the police station only a short distance away, and responded to the call. He surprised the burglar in the business office of the Droney Lumber Company; in an ensuing struggle and gun battle, Hassett put three bullets in the body of Nelson H. Dessler.
But the police captain was struck in the head by a single bullet, killing him instantly.
Dessler, 27, from Berlin, Ontario, though seriously wounded, fled the office and exchanged gunfire in the building with another officer. He later was shot at by another officer on Laurens Street, but escaped again.
Later that day, at about 1 p.m., police received a tip that the killer was holed up in a room in the Olean House.
Chief of Police Frank Chapman and Cattaraugus County Undersheriff E.E. Waite entered the room and placed Dessler under arrest.
Two days later he died of his wounds.
Timothy Blenner Hassett was born in 1863 in Hamilton, Ontario. He moved to Olean and became a member of #38 of NY Bricklayers and Associated Craftsmen, of which he later became president.
Hassett joined the Olean Police and was promoted to captain within four years. He served the Olean community for another eight years before his death.
The memorial is being rededicated by Enchanted Mountains #252 Free and Accepted Masons and was constructed using funds donated by members of the commnity. Permanent lighting and an awning is provided and maintained by members of the Masonic Temple.
Expected to be in attendance will be members of the Hassett family, regional representives of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Olean Mayor William J. Aiello, members of police departments from New York and Pennsylvania, members of BAC #3, members of Masonic lodges across New York state and members of Order of the Amaranth Hamilton Court #2, who will provide appetizers and refreshments.
For more information or to RSVP, contact Michael Jankowski, treasurer, Enchanted Mountains #252 F&AM, at 790-0858.