Weegee (1899-1968), [Body of Anthony Izzo, killed by off-duty policeman Eligio Sarro, New York], February 2, 1942 (122.1982)
PM, February 3, 1942, p. 11
Off Duty Cop Does Duty, Kills Gunman Who Tries Stickup
The boys were playing a little pool and cards in the Spring Arrow Social and Athletic Club, 344 Broome St., near the Bowery last night. Patrolman Eligio Sarro, off duty, went in for a pack of cigarets. Four men entered. “This is a stick-up,” the leader muttered. Sarro was a little slow getting his hands out of his overcoat pockets. “Get ’em up,” ordered the leader. Sarro did. One hand held a gun. When he got through firing, the leader was dead.
The usual curious crowd gathered after the gunman, fatally wounded, staggered from the entrance. He was about 22, dark and chunky. Police said he was Andrew Izzo with a record of six arrests.
Patrolman Sarro smokes a cigaret a few minutes after he dropped the gunman. He’s assigned to the Empire Blvd. precinct in Brooklyn. He lives only a few doors from the club. PM Photos by Weegee.
PM, February 3, 1942, p. 11
Weegee (1899-1968), [Body of Anthony Izzo, killed by off-duty policeman Eligio Sarro, New York], February 2, 1942 (2213)
Anthony Izzo was 24 years old. He lived on East 111th St. He was arrested several times, and shortly before he was shot, spent time in Sing Sing for second degree assault. Eligio Sarro was 35. He lived with his wife at 362 Broome St. He was a police officer who worked in Brooklyn.
Around 10 PM on Monday, February 2nd, Izzo, wearing a gray suit and no overcoat, “dark and chunky,” and three associates tried to stickup the twenty people in the Spring Arrow Social and Athletic Club (for members only, formed in 1922). They made the members stand against one of the walls. In the confrontation Izzo fired two shots, Sarro six. A pair of Sarro’s shots hit Izzo’s head. He died after running about 30 feet – out the door, then turning right on Broome. Izzo was not identified until after his fingerprints were taken at the Fifth precinct. The three associates escaped.
Weegee lived four blocks away. The three-photo story, occupying a full-page in PM, including one of the greatest (crime) photos of the twentieth century, perfectly illustrates the symbiotic relationship between PM and Weegee. The story received a cursory two or three paragraphs of ink (photo-free) in the other local papers.
The spoiled stickup occurred two months after the United States entered World War Two. On the same page as The Brooklyn Eagle‘s fugitive coverage of Izzo’s death were three photos (a pair of destroyed destroyers and the capsized Oklahoma battleship) of the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. On February 3rd photos of Pearl Harbor were released by the U.S. Navy.
Unidentified photographer, [Weegee and police officers looking at body of Anthony Izzo, killed by off-duty police man Eligio Sarro, New York], February 2, 1942 (19707.1993)
The NYPD logbook for Monday, February 2, 1942, reads: “10:30 PM. 5 Photos of body and scene at Broome and Elizabeth St. where Ptl. Eligio Sarrow shot and killed an unknown man, after sticking up a pool room at 344 Broome Street. Fingerprinted at 5 Pct.” (“Weegee: Murder is My Business,” p. 100.)
The photo of the dead Anthony Izzo and his gun on the sidewalk, near the Bowery, within earshot of the Third Avenue El, lives on. It was featured on the cover of John Zorn’s album Naked City, released in February 1990. The photo above is on the cover of “Weegee: Murder is My Business” (2013).
Significantly, it is one over 200 photos in Weegee’s classic book Naked City, published by Essential Books in July 1945 and co-published by ICP and Damiani in Spring 2020.
Weegee (1899-1968), Naked City, 1945 pp. 80-81.