Olean City Police Captain Hassett was shot and killed by a burglar, Nelson H. Dessler, of Canada, that he was attempting to arrest. A civilian heard someone inside the Droney Lumber Company offices, located in the Masonic Temple building, which she knew was closed. She notified the police, and Captain Hassett responded. As Hassett opened the door to the inner office, Dessler stepped from behind the door and attacked. They struggled for several minutes.
Dessler was able to reach his revolver and fired one shot, missing Hassett. Captain Hassett drew his revolver and fired rapidly. The three shots hit Dessler, who was still able to fire again. This time Dessler’s shot hit Captain Hassett in the head, killing him.
Although wounded, Dessler managed to flee out of the building, where he was met by two more patrolmen. Officer Fred Vollmer fired his revolver, striking Dessler in the leg. Dessler fired several shots was still able to flee both patrolmen.
Dessler was apprehended a short time later at his hotel room in the Olean House. He died from his gunshot wounds 48 hours later.
Find A Grave 2014
CAPT. HASSETT’S MURDERER IN A CRITICAL CONDITION
The Report at the Hour of Going to Press was that His Temperature is Very High, His Pulse Rapid, and He is Very Nervous and Restless. Doctors give Little Hope for Recovery – Capt. Hassett’s Funeral will be Held Wednesday Morning at 9:30 O’clock, From St. Mary’s Church – the Story of Dressler’s Record of Crime
Police Captain Timothy Hassett, who was murdered yesterday morning by a burglar as told in yesterday’s special edition of the Times, was born in Elmira, N.Y., a little over forty-five years ago. When about twelve years of age, he removed with his parents to Olean, and for thirty-three years had been a resident of this city. By trade, he was a bricklayer and stone mason, and for many years followed that line of work in Olean and vicinity, having charge of gangs of men on many important contracts. For the past eleven years he had been a member of the local police force, during nine years of which he was police captain. Towards the close of Mayor Franchot’s administration, Captain Hassett did special patrol duty, and when Howard Strong was elected mayor, he appointed Mr. Hassett a regular member of the force. After two years of patrol duty, he was made captain, which office he held to the time of his death, performing his duties in a manner that gave satisfaction to all, and as one mayor succeeded another, there was never a thought of removing Tim Hassett from the force. He often expressed himself as having no desire whatever to be chief, though there is no question but that his executive ability would have made him a valuable head of the police department. He was one of the best known police officers in western New York. Besides his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. John Hassett of West Green Street he is survived by his wife and seven children, Arthur of Buffalo, Tom, Mrs. Samuel Petty, Mayme, Anna, Celia and Raymond Hassett, all of whom reside in this city. There are also six sisters, Mrs. Charles Denney of Lawrenceville, Ill., Mrs. Peter McGraw of Wesleyville, Pa., Mrs. E. J. Hannon of Oil city, Mrs. J.H. Ryan, Mrs. Henry Baker and Miss Ella Hassett of Olean, and one brother, John Hassett of this city. Deceased was a member of the Tribe of Ben Hur and of the state Degree of Honor. The funeral will be held from St. Mary’s Church at 9:30 o’clock, Wednesday morning, solemn high mass being celebrated by Rev. Dan Hamel. The members of the police department will be present in a body and several officials from nearby cities and towns have signified their intention of coming to Olean. It will doubtless be one of the most largely attended funerals ever held in this city. The dead officer, whose body now lied at his late home on West Green Street, is dressed in his uniform, his police captain’s shield being pinned on his breast.
After Dressler, the man who did the killing, had been arrested, his suit case was searched, and in it was found a birthday card from his mother. The writing is in German, but was translated by Alderman Lang, it reads as follows: “My Dear Son. Today is your birthday, January 22nd. Twenty-seven years have gone, my loving son. Many heavy hours have we passed through this year, but I am glad to know that everything God does is for the best. My loving son, I wish you much luck, and God speed, in which all is trusted, and may He always be with you. Your loving mother.” In the suit case were also found several cards of false teeth, plates and other dental supplies, and it is believed that Dressler was concerned in the robbery of several dental offices in Dunkirk and Fredonia, which took place last Friday night. His record, as it develops more fully, is a bad one. He had served two terms in Canadian penitentiaries, and was at one time a leader of one of the worst gangs of crooks that ever infested Detroit and vicinity. About ten years ago he was arrested in this city of Officer Matt Hart, on the charge of robbing the hardware store of Benjamin & Co., now the Miller Hardware Co., at which time he was also charged with shooting. Last evening Detective Captain Seth Conover of buffalo, one of the nerviest officers in the employ of the Pennsylvania railroad company, and a close friend of Captain Hassett, arrived in Olean. Captain Conover says that he arrested Dressler about 2 years ago for robbing two boys, and later he broke jail at Emporium. When Dressler arrived in Olean on Sturdy, he registered at the Olean House, and tried to sell to Clerk W.R. Hodnett, about $4 worth of two cent stamps, which he said had been sent to him in payment for a bill. The stamps were in the regulation sheets of fifty to a sheet, and Mr. Hodnett took a dollar’s worth of them, thinking the explanation given as a plausible one. From this fact it is reasonable to suppose that at some time Dressler was mixed up in a post-office robbery. He was evidently open to any proposition, but confessed that his specialty was the robbery of dental offices. It has developed that after shooting Captain Hassett and eluding the police, Dressler returned to the Olean House about 8 o’clock in the morning. He came from the direction of State Street, and on entering the hotel office, inquired if the elevator was running. Being told that it was, he smiled, and said he guessed he would walk up to his room. The day clerk, who had just come on and the bell boys, noticed that he staggered as he walked, but supposed he had been drinking. Then he locked himself in his room, with two bullets through his bowels, one through the hip and one in the leg, knowing full well that he must either die there or be taken prisoner. When stripped at the hospital, it was found that both bullets in the abdomen had gone through him, one of them being found in one of his shoes. His clothing was soaked with blood, and had he been left alone a few hours longer, he must have bled to death. From one of his vest pockets was taken a lady’s gold watch, the stem portion of which had been shot away and the crystal broken. This watch he gave to Under Sheriff Wait, and asked him to keep it, as a remembrance of the day Mr. Walt said if he would give him the address of his people he would send the watch to them, but Dressler replied that he did not want his mother to know that he had committed murder. If he died, he did not want her to know what became of him. After his arrest, and when he was landed in the cell, Dressler was apparently the least excited person in Olean. He lighted a cigarette, smiled and asked: “Do they hang a man for murder in this state?” On being told that the death penalty was inflicted in the electric chair, he said: “Well, it will never get me.” It was misled last evening by one who has known him for years, that in 1903 he received a five year sentence in the Kingston, Ontario, penitentiary, and after serving about two years was released on parole, a petition to that effect having been largely signed. His parents are in well-to-do circumstances, and reside in Berlin, Canada. A request made to the Olean General Hospital as to Dressler’s condition today, was met with the reply that they were not permitted to give out any information. It was learned from Chief of Police Caspman that Dressler passed a fairly comfortable night, but the report from Dr. J.E.K. Morris, at the hour of going to press is that there has been a turn for the worse. The man’s temperature is very high, his pulse is rapid, and he is in a very nervous condition. The physicians do not talk at all favorably regarding his probable recovery. Both bullets, they state, pierced the intestines, and tomorrow or the day after will be the most critical ones in the man’s condition.
Orlean Evening Times – 22 Feb 1909