Tucumcari, New Mexico, Indian Territory
December 29, 1906
MARSHAL LAWSON KILLED BY CONSTABLE HARDWICK
CITY IN MOURNING OVER TERRIBLE INCIDENT
All Business Suspended for Funeral
What terminated in one of the most deplorable tragedies in the history of our city occurred at the Legal Tender corner Wednesday at about 11 o'clock when Constable Sam W Hardwick shot and mortally wounded City Marshall John M Lawson.
These officers had had some difficulty regarding arrests they had made on Christmas night and from the most reliable information we can get, Hardwick, while drinking heavily, followed Lawson up on Wednesday morning and demanded further explanations and became abusive, as the argument was extended. Lawson declared that he could not take further abuse from Hardwick and drew his pistol, at the same time saying he was ready to settle the matter.
They were prevented from fighting by friends, who immediately interfered, and Justice of the Peace Jas. Lawson, the Marshal's brother, held him and Sheriff J. A. Street took Hardwick outside, and was promised by Hardwick that he would not shoot if he would turn him loose. The sheriff thinking Hardwick would drop the fight left him and turned to ask Lawson to say no more. Hardwick followed up and like a flash drew his pistol, reached around Street's body and fired, his aim catching the Marshal in the left side three inches below the heart. The bullet passed through his body and dropped from his clothing on the floor as he staggered and fell. He was unconscious until death which occurred in about an hour afterwards. After Hardwick fired Street turned on him and wrenched the smoking weapon from his hand but not before he had again cocked it and pulled the trigger, the hammer falling on Street's left first finger, tearing out its hold as the struggle for the weapon continued. While this encounter was going on Jas. Lawson had secured his brother's pistol and was disposessed of it only by wrenching it from his hand by friends who were assisting to stop the fight; as his hold was loosened the rubber handle was broken to pieces and left in his grip, Street, in the meantime, over powering Hardwick and disposessing him of his gun took him to jail while Lawson turned his attention to his dying brother. We have, since the killing, been told that there has been bad blood between these officers since the city election at which time they were both candidates for Marshal.
Not since the founding of our city has there been such sorrow cast over its inhabitants. Hardwick's aged mother, when she heard of the terrible affair, fell on her knees and asked God to spare the wounded Marshal and to forgive the wild madness of her son. Her heart is broken while the poor wife of the dead officer has sorrow greater than she seems able to bear. Two children are left, one a baby and the other five years old, also an aged mother and other relatives whose burden of grief is heavy enough.
The funeral took place from the first Baptist church Thursday afternoon at 3 o'clock, at which time every business house in the town closed doors until 5, when the ceremonies at the cemetery had ended. The largest funeral procession ever assembled in Tucumcari followed the remains to the cemetery. Service at the church was conducted by Rev. Reece, and funeral director M. H. Koch was assisted by Odd Fellows who marched from the residence to the church and acted as pall bearers. The deceased was a member of Tecumseh, Okla. Lodge No. 24, I. O. O. F. Tecumseh, Okla.
The people sympathize most sincerely with both these bereaved families.
At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Tucumcari, held December 28, 1906, the following resolutions were adopted:
Whereas, John M Lawson, Town Marshal of Tucumcari, was killed on the 26th day of December 1906 while in the discharge of his duty as Marshal of this town and:
Whereas, by his death the town of Tucumcari has lost a law abiding citizen and an efficient officer;
Be it Resolved by the board of trustees of the town of Tucumcari that we sincerely deplore his unfortunate death and most earnestly condemn the lawless act by which it was caused:
And be it further resolved that we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family and relatives of the deceased:
And it is ordered that a copy of these resolutions be spread at large upon the town records and that a copy be furnished the family of the deceased.
John Pace, Chairman
H. H. Hargis, Trustee,
S. H. Neafus,
F. L. Gutierrez,
Robert S. Coulter, Clerk.