South St. Paul post office named after officer killed in Barker-Karpis gang robbery

The South St. Paul Post Office will be named after Patrolman Leo Pavlak, the only South St. Paul Police Officer to have been killed in the line of duty, after U.S. Rep. Angie Craig’s legislation to do so was signed into law this week.

Pavlak, 38, was gunned down by a member of the Barker-Karpis gang during a payroll robbery while escorting two messengers from the local post office on Aug. 30, 1933. Pavlak had only been on the force for four months. Fellow Officer John Yeaman was shot several times but survived, according to an account published on the South St. Paul Police Department website.

The Barker-Karpis Gang also was responsible for the William Hamm Jr. and Edward Bremer Jr. kidnappings in St. Paul.

“In 1933, Officer Pavlak lost his life in service to his community – and in the years since, many of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have continued building his legacy as they joined the ranks of the Minnesota law enforcement community,” Craig said in a written statement. “By renaming the South St. Paul Post Office the Officer Leo Pavlak Post Office, we remember and honor the dedication and sacrifice of Officer Pavlak and his entire family.”

According to a letter from the family read by state Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, Pavlak’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren include a number of local law enforcement officials. Among them were retired St. Paul police officer David Pavlak, U.S. Marshal for Minnesota Bob Pavlak, and former Ramsey County Sheriff Commander Robert Pavlak Jr.

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Craig’s bill was passed by the House and Senate earlier this month and signed into law Tuesday.

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