"The firecrackers go all over the place. . .one of those photographers that just drove around, his name was Bill Beall, a nice guy, he took a picture when I was talking to the child, the child was with his mother. His father was in the military and was out of the country." ~Maurice Cullinane
Andy Ockershausen: We are delighted, exceptionally delighted, in Our Town to have a special guest that I've known for more years than I hate to admit but he's a special man, Maurice Cullinane, former Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Police Department, who is a native Washingtonian.
Maurice Cullinane - Retired, Chief of Police, Metropolitan Police Department
Andy Ockershausen: Maurice Cullinane was a Navy veteran, got out of the Navy in 1951 and became a cop or a policeman as we call them now but when he grew up they were cops and they were great and things were different but they really weren't, Cully.Your years in the force saw a lot of changes, a lot of things happen. They were tumultuous in the seventies and I recall people saying this is great, we've settled all the problems now and look what we're facing.
1977 Hanafi Siege
Andy Ockershausen: Cully was the first police chief to face the so-called terrorists, Hanafi Muslims, and I don't know what year was that Cully. 77?
Maurice Cullinane: 1977.
Andy Ockershausen: And they were doing serious, serious threat to our city.
Maurice Cullinane: Actually, they came into the B'nai B’rith at ten-thirty in the morning seven gunmen they took a hundred and twenty some hostages there.
Andy Ockershausen: At the B’nai B’rith?
Maurice Cullinane: At the B’nai B’rith and I went up and was trying to talk to them, find out what that was their complaint and we were just yelling up and down the steps and I got notified several hours later that they took over the Islamic center up on Massachusetts Avenue. There was three gunmen in there and so we went back and we had a command center setup because we were having so many demonstrations and I tried to talk to them and then they took over the district building and that's where shots were fired. A young reporter, his name was Maurice Williams, was killed and…
Andy Ockershausen: Was he the only fatality?
Maurice Cullinane: He was the only fatality during the whole time but the Marion, who, Marion Barry, who was later then called the mayor for life, he was shot, he was on the council at the time, and he was shot and the bullet hit him in a place that would have killed him but the bullet bounced off of the walls before it hit him and it was spent (Note: It is reported on Wikipedia that "The gunmen also shot D.C. Protective Service Division police officer Mack Cantrell, who died a few days later in the hospital of a heart attack.")
A: And he was not a target then it was an accident almost?
M: They were just shooting at random it was something, just an unusual situation. Back in 1973 the black Muslims had been attacked up on 16th street and there was a fellow, his name was Hamaas. This wasn't actually his name, he could have changed it legally I don't know, but his name was McGee. He was 54 years old and he had been in the Army and he got discharged for mental instability and he was with the black Muslims. The black Muslims just appeal to a very small number of blacks because they were advocating . . .
A: very militant group
M: they were extremely militant and he was not so he dropped out of black Muslims to be in just an orthodox Muslim but he did it with the letter that irritated the black Muslims and they came in 1973 to a house that was owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and they killed five of his [Hasaam's] children, one of whom was just months old, 2 to 3 months old, and they killed a total of seven people and so the homicide squad came and locked them up.