No this isn’t the promotional shot for a new historical crime show on HBO.
This photo was brought to life by the colourizing talents of Mark Truelove and published on his website Canadian Colour. The photo was recently shared again by Vancouver Police chief Adam Palmer. Taken by photographer Stuart Thomson on January 25, 1924, the officers hold solemn expressions as well as an assortment of recently used weaponry.
According to Eve Lazarus, local historian and author of Vancouver Exposed, the photograph was captured after a grizzly murder-suicide on the Vancouver docks.
In the clippings Lazarus acquired from the long-since-shuttered Vancouver Daily World, a different photo from the same event ran with the caption: Officers Battle with Slayer of Seamen.
“It turns out that on January 25, 1924, Ben Baba, a Maltese seaman had armed himself with two stiletto knives and gone on a rampage onboard the Pilar de Larringa murdering the captain and a crew member and injuring four others before police arrived to stop him,” Lazarus writes. “Sergeant George McLaughlin shot Baba with the sawed-off shotgun that he’s proudly displaying in the photo (they called it a riot gun), and according to the story, Baba then slit his own throat.”
For more information on the fascinating life of Joe Ricci, the detective in the centre of the photo holding the stiletto knives you can check out Eve Lazarus’ website Every Place Has a Story.
For more of Mark Truelove’s work, you can get lost for hours perusing the photos on Canadian Colour.