On August 24, 1957 Constable Ronald Pitt was shot by two gunmen as he approached a stolen vehicle in the small village of Morrisburg, Ontario.  The following articles are the actual newspaper accounts of this incident.

While police today conducted one of the most intensive probes in the history of this river front area, citizens from all walks of life were rallying to save the life of a rookie policeman shot by the bullets of two car thieves here early on Saturday morning.

“We are putting the heat on and tracking down every lead we can get,” said Inspector Jack Craig of the OPP’s Criminal Investigation Branch, Toronto, who was rushed here on Saturday to head the investigation into the incident which critically injured Constable Ronald Pitt.
The search for the two men centered west of Iroquois, the town near which the constable’s police car was abandoned by the fleeing thugs following the shooting.

Constable Pitt, aged 33, still was in critical condition and the subject of close attention by a team of specialists at the Montreal Neurological Institute today.

He was flown to Montreal on Saturday by helicopter from the Cornwall General Hospital where he had been taken following the pre-dawn gun battle in which he intercepted two car theft suspects on a lonely water front street about 5 a.m.

In a crucial seven-hour operation conducted by a team led by Dr. Gilles Bertrand, one of the three bullets was taken from the spine and two from the abdomen. The bullet which lodged in Pitt’s spine narrowly missed the heart, nicking the spinal column. He is paralyzed from the waist down.

Inspector Craig told the Citizen today that he “had some suspects in mind” but that they were not from the immediate Morrisburg area. “It looks like the work of outsiders……….but I don’t think they are too far removed from here,” he added. Fingerprints have been obtained from the police cruiser use in the escape.

Meanwhile, the response to a call for blood to keep the injured constable alive has been overwhelming.

“The response has been terrific,” observed Morrisburg’s Chief of Police, Earl McIntyre.

Ontario Provincial Police and Morrisburg municipal police said at noon today they are working on promising leads which they expect will result in the arrest of two gunmen who shot and wounded Constable Ronald Pitt in a wild gun battle here early this morning on a quiet waterfront residential street. Shot twice in the chest and reported in critical condition, the 34-year-old rookie constable, was flown from Cornwall – he had been rushed there earlier this morning for emergency treatment – to Montreal’s Neurological Hospital.

Police said Constable Pitt was shot when he attempted to question two men who had driven off without lights in a car he knew belonged to a Morrisburg resident shortly after 4 a.m. today.

Constable Pitt only two months on the force, had just been issued with a uniform. He emptied his gun at the men who cut him down, but it is not known if any of his bullets found their mark.

The two gunmen fled the scene of the shooting in the patrol car which Pitt had been using. It was found later this morning, undamaged, on a lonely road a mile north of Iroquois. The car was abandoned in the same area as other cars which had been recovered by police following robberies in the Hainesville-Iroquois area. This leads police to suspect the same gang is involved in the Morrisburg gun battle.

It is reported that Pitt had noticed the two men cruising the village streets earlier in the evening and became suspicious shortly after 4 a.m. when he saw them tampering with a small car owned by Robert Merkley of Morrisburg. As he drove up in his patrol car to question them, the men drove off without lights.

Constable Pitt followed the men in his patrol car and succeeded in blocking their path on Riverside Drive in front of the residence of Parker Locke. As he jumped out to question the men, the officer was met by a burst of gunfire.

Drawing his service revolver the rookie constable, who is a recent arrival from Scotland, returned the fire and ran across the lawn seeking shelter.

He was struck by the gunmen’s bullets and fell to the ground where he lay semi-conscious.

In the meantime, Parker Locke had heard the shots and ran outside his home. He heard the wounded officer calling for help and ran into his residence.

The crash of the shots, meanwhile, had shattered the quiet night air in the village and Harry Ing, proprietor of a Main street all-night restaurant, heard the blasts. He telephoned the municipal police but was unable to get an answer. Mr. Ing telephoned Ontario Provincial Police District 11 Headquarters at Cornwall and informed them of the situation. Radio contact was made with the Morrisburg Highway Patrol which went to Riverside Drive to investigate and found Constable Pitt lying on the ground, wounded and in a widening patch of blood.

The constable’s 1957 model grey Ford coach had been taken by the gunmen.
Dr. C.A. Louden was called and ordered the wounded man taken to Cornwall General Hospital after giving emergency treatment.

On arrival at Cornwall, Dr. L.A. Caldwell took charge of the semi-conscious victim and examination disclosed that he had received two bullets in the chest. One bullet passed through, from front to rear. The other lodged near the spine. The officer is paralyzed from the waist down. Blood transfusions were given immediately and a squad of eight OPP officers donated blood.

Arrangements were made with the RCAF at Rockcliffe to have the wounded man taken by helicopter to Montreal Neurological Institute. The helicopter landed at the Athletic Grounds nearby the hospital and took off shortly before noon with a doctor, nurse and Constable Peter Burton of Morrisburg accompanying the victim.

Police, meanwhile, recovered a dump truck stolen earlier from Iroquois. It was found abandoned in the railway yard at Morrisburg and is believed to have been used by the gunmen to get to Morrisburg. Corporal James Aldred of the OPP detachment at Morrisburg, along with Constable Herbert Meyer, is assisting Morrisburg Police Chief Earl McIntyre with the investigation. Identification experts Constables Robert Fox of the OPP and Sgt. Fred Seavers of Cornwall city police are also assisting in fingerprinting and photography.

Roadblocks were thrown up early this morning east and west of Morrisburg on Highway 2 and north on Highway 31. They were removed, however, after the stolen police car was found.

Morrisburg druggist, Mac Wilson, whose store is two blocks from Parker Locke’s home told the Standard-Freeholder that his wife was awakened at about “five” by “four or five” shots in rapid succession. Mr. Wilson dressed immediately and left the house. “When I arrived Police Chief Earl McIntyre was already in attendance,” he said. He noticed that Constable Pitt was still conscious.

Epilogue: Constable Pitt, never recovered from the wounds he suffered during the early morning hours of August 24, 1957. He died in hospital shortly after the incident. He was survived by his wife and two sons, 7-year-old Ronald Jr. and 3-year-old Ian. In an outpouring of support for the family the citizens of Morrisburg, established a $3,000.00 trust fund for the children. No one was ever apprehended or charged for the murder of Constable Ronald Pitt. The file remains open to this day. The murder of an area farmwife, which occurred around the same time also remains unsolved. The early optimism for Constable Pitt’s recovery and the apprehension of the culprits who fired the fatal shots are faded memories now.