Deputy Chief and Elmhurst Resident Stir Outcry to Prevent Cop-killer from Walking Free

An excellent job by Norm Nissen, Northlake Deputy Police Chief!

Northlake Deputy Chief Norman Nissen Jr. points to a photo of his father, Officer Norman Nissen, with Officer John Nagle who was killed during a bank robbery in 1967

Every officer at the Northlake Police Station knows of Det. Sgt. John Nagle and Patrolman Anthony Perri, Northlake officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. The officers are memorialized inside the department.

Northlake Deputy Chief Norman Nissen has an especially deep knowledge of the case. A photo of Sgt. Nagle with Nissen’s father, a former Northlake officer who shares his name, hangs in his office.

A memorial to officers Anthony Perri (left) and John Nagle has been inside the Northlake Police Department since they were killed in 1967

“The memorial for the officers has been part of this police department since its existence,” said the junior Nissen, who grew up in Elmhurst.

Oct. 27, 1967
It was a few days before Halloween, in 1967, and officers Nagle and Perri were responding to a robbery at Northlake Bank, 26 W. North Ave.

Henry Michael Gargano, Ronald Del Raine and Clifton Daniels opened fire on the officers as they arrived on the scene.

Perri was hit by four bullets before he even got out of his car. As he crawled out of his squad, he was shot in the head at close range. Nagle arrived on scene after Perri. He was fatally shot in the head and abdomen.

Henry Michael Gargano’s blood can be seen on the bank robbers’ vehicle

Gargano and Daniels were able to escape with $86,000, while Del Raine was arrested at the scene. The duo was located shortly after, at a cottage in Bloomington, Ind., but $40,000 of the money remains unaccounted for.

All three bank robbers were given 199 years in prison for their roles in the murders. Daniels died in jail in 1999.

But Gargano, now 79, was granted parole a year ago January and assigned a release date of Sept. 3, 2010.

Henry Michael Gargano pleaded guilty to the murder of two Northlake police officers in 1967. He was almost let out on parole recently, but Elmhurst native and Northlake Deputy Chief Norman Nissen, along with Elmhurst resident David Pezza, helped to make sure that didn’t happen

The other surviving murderer, Del Raine, upon learning of Gargano’s parole, applied for parole, himself, but was denied in October of last year.

“We were shocked,” said Nissen, who learned about Gargano’s parole hearing in April last year. “Just because they are old doesn’t mean they are not dangerous to society.”

Reads Like an Al Capone Memoir

Even Gargano’s escape from prison in 1975 wasn’t enough to revoke any possibility of parole.

Nissen said the money Gargano had stolen from the bank, which was never accounted for, might have aided him in his escape. Nissen said Gargano may have offered a share of the cash to anyone who would help him make a getaway. Gargano enjoyed a week on the run before he was arrested again.

Another photo inside the Northlake Police Department shows the officers’ cars after the Oct. 27, 1967, shootout at Northlake Bank

“We may never know what happened to that money,” Nissen said. “It may be buried somewhere near the cottage or they might have handed it off to someone along the way.”

Loyalty Knows No Age

Nissen was just a 6-year-old kid, playing in the streets of Elmhurst at the time of the murders. But he led the fight to get the U.S. Parole Commission to reconsider Gargano’s parole, nonetheless.

“You can’t help but think that if it was your dad (who was killed) would someone else work to keep (his killer) in jail?

“We contacted family members, officers and press to try to form a public outcry to keep him in jail,” Nissen said.

Elmhurst resident David Pezza, an attorney with a Chicago law firm, grew up with Sgt. Nagle’s family. In fact, Nagle’s oldest son, John, is Pezza’s best friend. So it was only natural Pezza took an active role in supporting John and his siblings, and Perri’s son, throughout the process of getting the parole overturned.

“(Nissen) found out about it and got everyone engaged to fight the parole of these guys,” Pezza said. “He has been following this for years, and this was all a result of his efforts.”

Pezza’s knowledge of the legal system was very helpful, Nissen said.

“It’s difficult to stand up and accompany the family up until the parole hearing, but he did it,” Nissen said. “These families had to struggle without a father, and it took a lot out of them.”

Last month, federal officials reversed Gargano’s parole decision, meaning he most likely will live out his final days in prison.

“As a policeman I appreciated everything (Pezza) did,” Nissen said. “A good deed was done by everybody involved. There were only a few people at the hearing, but we stood for the thousands who wrote and fought with us.

“It was a nice outcome.”

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