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March 6, 2010

Murder in Alex: Officers gunned down in 1911

Note: This is the first of two parts. Read the second part on March 21. More information can be found HERE)

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It was probably a typical Saturday night March 4, 1911, in Alexandria when James W. Walker, 30, entered a pawn shop on North Canal Street owned by C.W. Miller at 9 p.m., intent upon committing a robbery.

Standing outside the shop was Walker’s friend and accomplice, Rufus Warren, 27. Both men were Alexandria residents and employed as plate glass workers. Warren was single but Walker was married with four children.

While the robbery was in progress, a woman passing the store sounded the alarm.

Patrolmen Virgil Kirkman, 23, a member of the police force for only three weeks, and Fred Stokes rushed to the scene. Apparently Warren had seen them approaching and left his post outside. Not drawing his gun, Kirkman entered the store and Walker fired at him three times, not heeding the officer’s warning to throw up his hands.

One shot cut a finger; one went through his stomach, but the other struck him below the left eye, passing through his brain and lodging in the back of his head. Kirkman died at the Alexandria hospital at 11:40 that night.

Gunfire on streets

As Walker was fleeing the pawn shop, the other patrolman, Fred Stokes, gave pursuit and a total of seven gun shots were exchanged between the two. Walker fled south on Canal Street to Washington and west on Washington to Berry. Near the Christian church, Stokes lost sight of him.

Word was sent to the Anderson Police Department and Sheriff Jack Mountain requesting their assistance. The sheriff and three patrolmen quickly arrived and began a search for Warren. A tip from Alva Ice led officers to Washington Street where Warren was arrested. Warren confessed the crime and told where Walker could probably be found.

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