At 3 a.m. on April 13, 1919, Mounted Watchman Childress and his partner, Mounted Watchman Leroy D. Straw, were on duty near Monument 9, known as “The Island”, near El Paso, Texas. The officers observed a man come near the line on the Mexican side and a few seconds later three men ran from the United States side into Mexico and joined the man waiting there. The group then moved several hundred feet into Mexico and a few minutes later seven men came to the line which at that point was marked by a barbed wire fence.
Two of the seven held down the barbed wire fence with their feet while the other five, with sacks on their backs, crossed to the American side. The officers made a challenging run at the smugglers and the two who had remained on the line immediately opened fire while the other five dropped the sacks they were carrying and ran toward Mexico. The officers returned the fire and all seven of the smugglers ran further into Mexico, disappearing over the mesa. While the officers were pursuing the smugglers, Childress said, “I am hit and going to telephone.” Officer Straw proceeded to the point where the smugglers had abandoned their contraband where he remained, expecting Childress to return.
When Childress failed to return to the scene within a reasonable time, Mounted Watchman Straw became concerned and proceeded to a house where a telephone was available. There he learned that Childress had been seriously wounded and was being cared for pending the arrival of an ambulance. An emergency operation was performed on Mounted Watchman Childress but he failed to recover. Death occurred at 9:10 a.m. on the morning of April 16, 1919.
On May 8, 1919, at 10:15 p.m., Mounted Watchman Charles Lloyd Hopkins was shot by smugglers on the banks of the Rio Grande River, near Laredo, Texas. He died three hours later in Mercy Hospital, Laredo.
Reportedly, the shot which killed Mounted Watchman Hopkins was the first shot fired in a general gun battle between smugglers and federal officers in which a United States Public Health Service Guard, Ira Hill, and several of the Mexican smugglers were also killed.
Mounted Guard Gardiner was shot and killed without warning by the driver of a wagon, loaded with smuggled liquor, which he was approaching to inspect.
The report indicated that he approached a one-horse wagon containing two Mexicans for the purpose of questioning them as to their immigration status and that they jumped from the wagon and immediately fired upon him from close range.
At about 4:30 p.m., September 14, 1924, Patrol Inspector James F. Mankin was killed by the accidental discharge of a Service rifle. The accident occurred about 18 miles northeast of Laredo near the Rio Grande River where Patrol Inspector Mankin, along with Patrol Inspectors Buck West and Ralph R. Dockum, were patrolling in a government vehicle. The officers, upon reaching the banks of the river, alighted from the car to determine whether or not any crossings had been made. Upon returning to the car, Patrol Inspector Mankin, who had been driving, entered the vehicle and seated himself behind the steering wheel. Patrol Inspector Dockum prepared to enter the back seat of the car from the left side and Patrol Inspector West was to enter the back seat from the right side of the automobile. There were two rifles in scabbards in the back of the car along with camping gear and other articles. The two officers were rearranging the items in the back of the car in order to make more room for themselves when a .30 caliber government rifle slipped out of the car, the hammer striking the running board and discharging the gun. The bullet struck the back of the front seat about six inches below the top. The bullet split, one part ricocheting to the left, striking the bow over the back seat and passing within a few inches of Dockum’s face. The other part of the bullet ricocheted to the right through the upholstering of the front seat, striking Inspector Mankin behind the right ear. Inspector Mankin died less than thirty minutes after the accident.
While patrolling in company with another officer near Cordova Island, El Paso, Texas, on the evening of December 13, 1924, Patrol Inspector Clark was shot and killed by smuggler’s spotters who were concealed at a strategic point on the American side of the international boundary line for the purpose of warning and protecting the smugglers should the presence of officers be detected.
When the smugglers were challenged by the Patrol Inspectors, the spotters opened fire from ambush, and one of the shots hit Patrol Inspector Clark causing immediate death. Other officers quickly took positions in concealment surrounding the scene of the action and remained there through the night.
They found sacks, which contained illegal liquor, and took into custody a Mexican family that was found on the scene searching the premises in the early morning. One of these Mexicans, Eulalio Aguilar, was subsequently indicted on charge of murder, convicted and given a 1O-year sentence.
During the evening of April 4, 1925, Patrol Inspectors William A. Blundell and Joseph P. Riley were patrolling in a government-owned car about 1 1/2 miles from Eureka, Montana, when the tie rod broke, causing the automobile to leave the roadway. The vehicle continued over a high bank and then into a ditch and turned over, pinning Inspector Riley under the steering wheel.
Patrol Inspector Blundell was not seriously injured. Patrol Inspector Riley sustained a fractured cervical vertebra and a spinal cord injury. He was conveyed to the Eureka Hospital which was nearest the scene of the accident. The attending physician advised that Inspector Riley’s condition was so serious that facilities were not available for providing proper attention at Eureka and he recommended moving the patient to Spokane, Washington. On April 5 Inspector Riley was transported by train to Spokane, Washington, where he was placed in the Sacred Heart Hospital. He succumbed at 6:00 a.m. on April 6, 1925, from respiratory paralysis.
On August 2, 1925, Patrol Inspector Augustin De La Pena was shot and killed by an insane Mexican at Rio Grande City, Texas. While eating supper in a restaurant, the officer, accompanied by Patrol Inspector Fred Neale, noticed a Mexican enter the restaurant and get into an argument with the proprietor. It was later learned the Mexican’s name was Macario Pena. The Mexican acted very peculiarly, and the officers noticed that he was armed with a revolver. After he left the restaurant, Patrol Inspector De La Pena decided to follow him and question him in regards to his immigration status.
Accordingly, the officer followed the Mexican. Inspector De La Pena followed him into the drug store and started to question him when the Mexican drew his revolver. The officer ordered him to drop the gun, but instead the Mexican fired, the bullet striking De La Pena in the abdomen. The officer then attempted to take the revolver away from the Mexican and, after a struggle in which others could not assist the officer because of the location of the two behind a counter in the store, De La Pena became weakened by loss of blood and in order to protect others, drew his own revolver and shot the Mexican, killing him.
Inspector De La Pena died on the operating table a few hours later.
On October 27, 1925, Patrol Inspector Ross A. Gardner was returning from his official station, San Diego, California, to Elsinore, California, where he was temporarily assigned. He was operating a government-owned motorcycle which he had taken to San Diego to be repaired.
At Sedoc, California, about three miles east of Elsinore, Inspector Gardner ran into the rear of an automobile that was stalled on the roadway. The stalled vehicle had no lights at the time and, reportedly, headlights on a truck heading in the opposite direction hampered the officer’s vision.
Patrol Inspector Gardner sustained a fractured skull, fracture of the pelvis, and internal injuries. He was conveyed to Elsinore by a passing motorist but was later transferred to the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. Death occurred at 4:20 a.m. on October 28, 1925.
On April 23, 1926, information was received that a liquor pack train had left Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, for the United States and on that date would be at or near the Alhambre Ranch about 40 miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona.
Near the ranch, officers of the Border Patrol saw such a pack train and in an attempt to capture it Patrol Inspector McKee was shot and killed at the wheel of a patrol car. The smugglers fired from ambush while being pursued by Inspector McKee. The smuggler responsible for killing Inspector McKee was later convicted of first degree murder.
Patrol Inspector Lon Parker was killed in a battle with alien liquor smugglers 2 1/2 miles south of Wills Ranch, west of the Huachuca Mountains, in Arizona, on July 25, 1926. Late that afternoon he left camp alone to take up the trail of mounted liquor smugglers. Tracks of a man and a horse had been discovered with evidence that the man had ridden the horse where the terrain was smooth and walked over rough places, indicating that the horse was loaded with liquor or other contraband.
Nothing was heard from Inspector Parker until the Wills family returned to their ranch at about 6 p.m. the same day, and found him on their woodpile dying from a gunshot wound. He had been shot with a rifle bullet in the back. He died within a few minutes without regaining conscious-ness. During the investigation, the body of a Mexican was found about 2 1/2 miles from the Wills’ home. The Mexican was identified as Artilio Espinosa, a well-known smuggler. Espinosa’s horse, with 20 gallons of mescal in cans strapped on his back, was found dead of a bullet wound.
From the tracks in the area and the position of Espinosa and his horse, the investigating officers theorized that Espinosa was accompanied by another smuggler, that Officer Parker rode up to Espinosa, covered him with a pistol and was shot by Espinosa’s companion, who was purposely riding at some distance for the purpose of protecting Espinosa and the liquor, and that Inspector Parker, although mortally wounded, retained sufficient command of himself to kill Espinosa and his horse, using only one shot for each, and then rode 2 1/2 miles to Wills Ranch, where he collapsed.
Thad Pippin, Patrol Inspector, El Paso, Texas, met his death in the mountains near Pelea, New Mexico, on the night of April 21, 1927, during the course of a gunfight in which he and a brother officer were engaged with smugglers. Patrol Inspector Crossett who was with him was wounded four times. On information that contraband was being smuggled into the United States through mountains south of the western end of the smelter district of El Paso, a number of Patrol Inspectors, including Inspector Pippin, about 6 p.m., on April 21, 1927, went to Pelea, New Mexico, near these mountains, and continued until they arrived near the trails leading out of Mexico across the mountains.
Just before dark they discovered a pack train approaching along the trail at some distance. It had not yet arrived at a point where the trails intersected and the officers could not ascertain which trail the train would take. The officers divided into two teams and guarded their respective trails until after dark, when one team of officers decided that the pack train must have taken the other trail and started down the mountain in that direction. They had not gone far before they heard rapid shooting from the direction of the other trail, which the team consisting of Officers Crossett and Pippin was guarding.
When the first-mentioned team reached the point where the shooting took place they found Officer Crossett had been shot four times and was in urgent need of medical attention. While one Patrol Inspector went to telephone headquarters, another remained with Crossett and in the meantime located the body of Officer Pippin which had fallen down an embankment after having been shot and killed. Nineteen gallons of liquor and two burros were seized at the time but none of the smuggling party was apprehended.
Franklin P. Wood, Patrol Inspector stationed at Sibley, Michigan, disappeared in the early morning of December 15, 1927. On the Detroit River near Wyandotte, Michigan, under cover of darkness, Patrol Inspectors Wood, James W. Oliver, and Chief Patrol Inspector Ivan A. Hall, patrolled in search of smugglers expected in the area.
Two boats containing contraband liquor had been seized and were being guarded when Inspector Wood left to pursue another boat operating in the vicinity of Wyandotte. He left in pursuit of one boat load of aliens, while his fellow officers pursued another. His wrecked boat, rammed by the smugglers, was found on the river some time after Patrol Inspector Wood was last seen.
Patrol Inspector Wood either drowned or was killed by the smugglers and thrown into the river. His body was never found.
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