Fri, May 24

1918: VERDE/CLEMENCEAU: Deputy Sheriff Lowry Murdered, July 16, Part 1.


"Because he objected to obeying the Crowder 'work or fight' order, Porfirio Hernandez, a Mexican of pro-German and Villista sympathies, went on a rampage at Verde last evening and killed Jim Lowry, 63 years old, a beloved pioneer of Arizona and one of the most famous of Arizona peace officers, who for several months had been in the employ of the U. V. Extension company as a day watchman."

"Hernandez is still at large, supposedly hiding in the brush along the Verde river. Pursuit of the fugitive was prevented by fifteen or twenty other men, who fired at a posse of men with revolvers and bombarded them with rocks."

"Lowry was shot three times in the stomach by Hernandez and died within a few minutes. C. R. Wright, another watchman, received a bullet wound through the left forearm. W. C. Scouller and Tim Ryan, who were in a bunkhouse nearby, were hit by flying bullets, Scouller just above the left ankle and Ryan in the right foot."

"Another man was firing at the time the battle between Lowry and Hernandez was in progress but he has not been identified."

"HOW IT STARTED: The trouble started about 6:30 when Wright overheard Hernandez making some remarks to another man. When General Crowder issued his famous 'work or fight' order, Hernandez lost an easy job in the boarding house at Verde and had to go to work with a shovel at the smelter. Last evening he was complaining to his friend about the injustice of this. He said that if it were not for the 'accursed gringoes' the Mexicans would not have to work with the lowly pick and shovel, but a brighter day was coming, for the Villistas would soon arrive to take possession of this whole country."

"Wright ordered Hernandez to drop that kind of talk and an altercation ensued between the two. Wight was armed only with a little .25 caliber revolver. With this in his fist he landed a stiff jolt to the side of Hernandez' jaw."

"Hernandez hurried off to his quarters, declaring that he would get a gun and kill the officer. Wright went to Lowry and told him about the occurrence. The two of them then set out for the Mexican bunkhouse, intending to arrest Hernandez for disturbing the peace."

"Twelve or fifteen Mexicans were gathered about the door of the bunkhouse. Wright heard one of them profanely advise Hernandez not to let himself be taken."

"THE CRIME: Wright singled out Hernandez from the crowd and said: 'Come along, I want you.' With that Hernandez drew an automatic revolver and began firing at Lowry. It is believed that his first three bullets were the ones that hit Lowry in the breast and stomach."

"Lowry started to double up. As he sank to the ground he managed to draw his own revolver and fire twice at Hernandez, but both shots went wild."

"The best information is that Hernandez fired five shots altogether. Some man standing near him fired several more. Which one hit Wright, Scouller and Ryan are uncertain."

"THE FIGHT: Hernandez turned and fled around the building. Wight had only three cartridges in his little revolver but fired them all at the fleeing murderer. It is possible but not probable that one found its mark."

"Half the town of Verde was almost instantly on the scene. Revolvers, rifles and shotguns were hurridly procured and a little group of men started to follow Hernandez toward Cottonwood, which was the direction that he had taken. Just back of the hospital they ran into a bunch of men armed with revolvers, knives and rocks. The would-be pursuers were soon driven back, as much by the rocks as by the bullets."

"A Mexican lawyer kept calling to the Americans to follow him and take the whole bunch, but in the confusion most of them misunderstood him and thought him a foe. Unarmed, he charged into the midst of the gang, but alone he could do nothing. Several of the Americans took to their heels. All was noise and confusion and nothing more was seen of Hernandez. There is a story to the effect that two Americans raced out along the trail and had him in sight when they were stopped by two Mexicans."

"DIES QUICKLY: Friends picked up Lowry, who was still breathing, but he expired within a minute or two, probably before he reached the hospital."

"In spite of the fact that he had a bullet hole through one arm, Wright took charge of the pursuit. In Cottonwood it was reported that an old man and his wife, traveling in a Ford, had been compelled at the point of a gun to pick up Hernandez and speed him away toward Camp Verde. Two auto loads of armed men, among them Wright, were soon in pursuit. They overhauled the Ford near Black Canyon and learned that the entire story was a canard. The autoists had picked up a passenger, but he was an American, not a Mexican."

"TRAIL PICKED UP: An hour or so after the shooting occurred, Hernandez' trail was picked up along the river below Cottonwood. One of the posses, led by John Munds, surrounded Hernandez in a thicket. Munds was the only person armed and naturally there was some trepidation about going into the brush after the murderer, himself armed with an ugly automatic that had already killed one man. Hernandez finally broke through. Munds caught a distant glimpse of him and fired without result. It was then after dark and to continue the pursuit was impossible."

"Early this morning the trail was picked up again on the other side of the river. Evidently Hernandez was making to the southeast. A posse headed by Under Sheriff John Robinson, who arrived from Prescott late last night, is following on horseback. In all probability there will be a desperate battle when the pursuers run their fugitive to earth. Unless he is able to find a horse he is almost sure to be caught."

"SEARCH FOR ARMS: Every house in the Mexican quarter of Verde was searched today and several revolvers and knives were confiscated. Twelve men who are suspected of having been in the party that prevented immediate pursuit of Hernandez were taken to Clarkdale and lodged in jail for investigation."

"THE INJURED: Wright, Scouller and Ryan spent the night at the United Verde hospital in Jerome. One of Scouller's leg bones may be fractured. Ryan's injury is slight and that of Wright more painful than serious."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Wednesday, July 17, 1918; page 1, columns 1-2.)