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Wiley, Officer Robert R.
End of Watch:
Sunday, July 30, 1916
On July 24, 1916 around 10:50 p.m., off-duty officers Officer Robert R. Wiley, 27, and Sgt. John F. Weedin, 45, were at Westlake Ave. and 9th Ave. Sgt. Weedin was soon dead; Officer Wiley and an armed suspect mortally wounded.
According to a statement given by Officer Wiley, he and Sgt. Weedin were off-duty and in plain clothes. After working a 12 hour shift because of a Longshoremen strike, they relaxed by attending a party together. Driving a car belonging to another Seattle police officer, Wiley was taking Weedin and some friends to the University District where Weedin lived.
In front of a warehouse at 2128 Westlake Ave., they saw two men running around in the street. Officer Wiley stopped, and went to investigate. The two men in the street told Wiley a Japanese man with a gun tried to rob them. They pointed to the suspect who was hiding in some shadows near the warehouse. As Officer Wiley walked towards the suspect, Weedin was backing the car around the corner and onto 9th Ave. Wiley approached the suspect, J. Suehiro, and identified himself as a police officer. Suehiro raised a pistol and shot Wiley in the groin. Wiley returned fire and moved towards Weedin and the car. Suehiro fired again. Sgt. Weedin was hit in the head, dying almost instantly. The suspect fell to the ground, having been hit by some of Wiley’s shots.
Officer Wiley had some citizens’ call for help. Sgt. Weedin was transported to City Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Officer Wiley and the suspect were also transported to City Hospital. The Chief of Police and the Chief of detectives interviewed the suspect. Suehiro said he had been hired as a watchman for the warehouse. He admitted shooting at the officers. He said he did not know they were officers and thought they were burglars. Suehiro died before he could undergo surgery. Officer Wiley was expected to make a full recovery. He was transferred to Providence Hospital the next day.
The investigation of the shooting raised many questions, some of which have never been answered. Burglar tools were found outside the warehouse and signs of an attempted entry to the warehouse were found near the tools. The two men Officer Wiley had seen in the street were never found or identified. Were they the people who attempted to break into the warehouse? Inside the warehouse, in a hidden sub-basement, officers found an illegal whiskey making operation. Several of the witnesses to the shooting had seen another shooter, a white male, at a corner of the warehouse. Two witnesses were certain a shot fired by the white male hit Weedin. After the shooting stopped, the white male ran across Westlake Ave. and disappeared into Denny Park. There was enough evidence to cause police to believe another person was there. That person was never identified. The official version of the incident was that J. Suehiro shot Sgt. Weedin and Officer Wiley.
On the night of 7-30-1916, at 9:21 p.m., Officer Wiley died. His condition had been improving, but suddenly took a turn for the worse. His wife, Etta, and many fellow officers were at his bedside when he died. He was also survived by his son, Robert E. Wiley. Officer Wiley was buried at Kirkland Cemetery.
Robert R. Wiley was born in Arkansas around 1888. The family moved to Kirkland in 1907, and engaged in farming. On 3-22-1908, Robert married Etta Mary Brooks from Darrington. Robert worked as a farmer. He also worked for the White Automobile Company before he was commissioned as a Seattle police officer on December 20, 1913