James A. Mitchell
Chief of Police
Died December 25, 1905
(No Photograph Available)
On Christmas Day, 1905, Chief Mitchell arrested a local man for disorderly conduct behind a saloon on Central Avenue between Second and Third Streets. While escorting his prisoner to jail Mitchell was attacked, with a knife from behind, by a second man named John Thomas. The chief fell mortally wounded and the two suspects turned to flee. Officer Bill Murphy, who happened on the scene, saw what happened. He fired several shots at the suspects. One of these shots took off the tip of Thomas’s nose. Thomas was incarcerated in the city’s second floor jail.
When a crowd of citizens became impatient with the courts, they grew angry and demanded that the police turn Thomas over to them. When they were denied, the crowd became more agitated and began arming themselves. The four police officers were not able to cope with the dangerous crowd and soon the officers were overcome. The crowd brought ladders and several in the crowd climbed to the jail window with guns in hand and shot Thomas repeatedly.