On July 4, 1940, electrician William Strachan discovered a ticking suitcase in a ventilation compartment on the second floor of the British Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He immediately summoned the police.
NYPD detectives William Federer and Frederick Morelock arrived first. Morelock bravely carried the suitcase in his bare hands through the crowds of sightseers outside the British Pavilion, around the Italian Pavilion, to a deserted spot in the rear near the Polish Pavilion.
NYPD detectives Joseph J. Lynch and Ferdinand A. Socha of the bomb and forgery squads arrived next. Lynch cut a hole in the bag and said “It looks like it’s the real goods.”
Moments later, at 4:45 p.m., the bomb exploded, killing Lynch and mortally wounding Socha, who struggled to stand up but collapsed. He later died at Flushing Hospital. The force of the bomb stripped the leaves off a nearby maple tree and bent and warped a metal fence. The nearby crowds of people were unaware of the event, assuming the noise was just part of the Fourth of July celebration.
Nobody ever stepped forward to claim responsibility for this terrorist act. It is still treated as an open, unsolved cold case. It was 24 years later, at the start of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, that the detectives’ deaths were recognized on a plaque dedicated to their memory for being killed in the line of duty.