Hamilton history: Officer killed during gas station robbery 82 years ago today

Hamilton Officer Aaron Laubach
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Hamilton Officer Aaron Laubach

On this day in 1938, Hamilton police Officer Aaron Laubach was fatally shot during a robbery at Pater Oil at East and Grand avenues, Hamilton police posted to Facebook this morning.

Laubach was 35 when he died in the line of duty and had served with the department for nearly eight years.

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According to a history researched and prepared by the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, Laubach was assigned to a plainclothes stakeout at the gas station after a series of robberies. Laubach had just arrived at the station at about 7:15 p.m. when a robber entered the station behind him.

A shootout happened, and Laubach was hit three times in the arm, chest, and head, but he was able to return two shots, according to the museum narrative. Laubach died within five minutes.

Laubach is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Grave site of Hamilton Officer Aaron Laubach at Greenwood Cemetery. He was killed in the line of duty on this date in 1938. HAMILTON POLICE DEPARTMENT.
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Grave site of Hamilton Officer Aaron Laubach at Greenwood Cemetery. He was killed in the line of duty on this date in 1938. HAMILTON POLICE DEPARTMENT.

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A month-long investigation led to the arrest of John W. Cline, 24, of West Elkton in Preble County. He admitted to a series of robberies in Hamilton, two of them at the station where Laubach died, according to the narrative.

Cline was executed in the Ohio electric chair on Feb. 1, 1939. His brother, who was implicated as the getaway driver, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

John W. Cline
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John W. Cline

For more information about officers killed in the line of duty, visit the museum's website.

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