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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage May 24, 2016

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Saturday, August 24, 2013

1918: JEROME; Officers Have Gun Battle With Bootleggers, August.

Verde Heritage

"ROBINSON AND DEPUTIES HAVE GUN BATTLE WITH PARTY OF BOOTLEGGERS: Officers Capture 1 Of The Band And Also Seize 200 Bottles of Liquor."

"Following a pitched gun battle with a party of bootleggers in Baker's Pass, eight miles northwest of Jerome, at 10 o'clock Monday night, Undersheriff Johnnie Robinson and Deputies Tom Marks and Fred Hawkins made one of the biggest hauls of bootleg whisky which has been made in the county for many months and also captured one of the three men who were bringing the load of liquor into Jerome. Despite the fact that the lawbreakers fired 30 or 40 shots at the three officers, none of the latter was hit, and it is believed also that the fire returned by Robinson's party was equally ineffective. The captured bootlegger gave his name as Gomez and said that he was 21 years of age."

"Robinson, who had gone to Jerome in search of the bootleggers on Monday, learned during the afternoon that three men were on their way to Jerome from the Cedar Glade country with pack animals laden with the contraband liquor. Messrs. Marks and Hawkins started out with Robinson for Baker's Pass, through which the bootleggers would have to travel in order to reach Jerome. The cops arrived at the pass shortly after dusk, and as the rain began to fall about that time, they made camp nearby. Shortly, about 10 o'clock, when the rain was falling in torrents, a string of pack animals was seen coming in from the northwest. Following the animals came a youth riding on a horse. About 150 feet behind him two others were coming. As the first rider passed the officers, one of the latter sprang out and caught him. The boy at once pulled an automatic pistol and attempted to draw a bead on his captors, but the gun was seized by Officer Marks before the prisoner could use it. The boy at once set up a cry, and being warned, his two companions, who were traveling behind him, took to the rocks. The boy was handcuffed and about that moment the men in the rocks began to fire on the officers with a rifle and a six-gun. Because of the heavy growth of brush in that section, and also because it was inky dark and raining, the officers could not get sight of the men who were firing on them, and had to be content with shooting at the flashes which came from the men's guns. About 40 shots were fired during the battle, but apparently none of them was effective. The outlaws then ceased firing and retired. The officers, with their prisoner securely fastened, overhauled the animals --- three burros, a horse and a mule and found that the beasts were carrying 200 pints of whisky, a quantity of bedding and other camp supplies."

"Yesterday morning at daybreak, the officers searched the adjacent country without finding any trace of the bootleggers other than a lot of empty catridges scattered about in the rocks. The party then started to Jerome, bringing their prisoner and the pack animals. When within about five miles of the city, two men appeared on the ridge high above the officers and opened fire on them. The cops, being armed only with automatic pistols were no match for the bootleggers, who had one rifle, but the latter finally fell back after they had fired 10 times at the officers. Again Robinson and the deputies went forward and conducted a search for the gunmen, but with no success."

"The party arrived in Jerome later in the morning and jailed their prisoner and locked up the booze. The boy Gomez had a very plausible story fixed up by the time the officers were able to question him. He said that he had been hired by two strangers to pilot the booze cargo from Cedar Glade, the railroad station, to Jerome. He was to receive $7.50 for the job, he said. The officers are not inclined to believe the boy's statements and will hold him for trial."

"It is said that the pack animals were stolen several weeks ago from the outfit of Colin Campbell at Ash Fork. The officers had received a tip to the effect that the animals had been stolen by a band of bootleggers who were going to use them to bring in a large shipment of booze to Jerome and a close watch has been kept. The men are believed to have been a part of the gang which has for the past six weeks kept the Verde district in a rather moist condition, alcoholically speaking, and the cops are quite anxious to apprehend them. Assistant County Attorney Perry Ling is now at Jerome, and it was stated last night that he would remain there for a couple of days and appear in behalf of the State at the time young Gomez is arraigned in the local justice court."

"Gomez made an attempt to escape from the Jerome jail yesterday evening and had the officers been about an hour later in calling on the prisoner, he would have in all probability have gained his liberty. In spite of the fact that the boy was searched at the time he was locked up, he managed to prevent the cops from finding a small hack-saw blade he had secreted in his belt. He used the saw during the afternoon in an effort to cut out one of the window bars, and when the chief of police called at the jail, the youth had about completed his job of cutting the bar."

(Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; August 14, 1918; page 1, columns 1-2.)


"Undersheriff J. H. Robinson, accompanied by Mrs. Robinson, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Marks, Constable William Fitzgerald and F. R. Dyas, who have been here the past two days, on a combined business and pleasure trip, departed today for Prescott, taking with them the bootlegger captured in Baker's Pass, together with the 180 pints of contraband liquor confiscated at the time."

"That the bootleggers were of an especially desperate character was manifested not only by the stiff gun fight they put up against the officers, but by the attempted jail-break made late yesterday by the prisoner brought in. He had sawed through two bars of the cell and was fast working his way to liberty when his plans were neatly disarranged by Chief of Police Crowley, who took from the prisoner four pieces of fine hacksaw. An additional charge of attempted jail-break will be lodged against the bootlegger."

"Robinson, before departing, expressed himself as highly pleased with the many warm assurances he received locally of support in his campaign for sheriff."

"'I expect, of course,' he stated, 'to be opposed by the I. W. W. and the Bootleggers' union, because of my announced policy, if elected, of strictly enforcing the loyalty and prohibition laws as well as all other state statutes.'"

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Wednesday, August 14, 1918; page 1, column 3.)

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