Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Chief John Ellis died from wounds he suffered the day before after being shot while attempting to arrest a robbery suspect.
While an accomplice stood across the street, another subject entered the Alexandria Loan Company with a red handkerchief over his face and commanded the owner, who complied, to turn over the day's receipts of $30. Patrolman Virgil Kirkman and another officer responded after being alerted to the robbery by a customer leaving the store. As Patrolman Kirkman entered the store with his gun holstered, the 28-year-old suspect shot him through the head without warning. Patrolman Kirkman later died in a hospital.
The accomplice was arrested shortly after the robbery and refused to cooperate with authorities. The suspect fled the scene to his parent's home, where Chief Ellis was mortally wounded while attempting to arrest the suspect and died from his injuries the next day in a hospital. After escaping, the suspect had his wounded arm tended to by a doctor in Orestes and started walking toward Frankton. He was found asleep in a nearby barn after several posses had formed to search for him.
The accused were moved five days later from the city jail and held in Anderson for fear that a lynching would take place. Both suspects were later sentenced to life in prison. The shooter had his sentence commuted to 25 years by the governor and released from prison in 1936. The accomplice was paroled by the governor and discharged in 1920.
Chief Ellis was survived by his wife, 3-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter, four brothers, three sisters and parents.