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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Disarming a Knife-Wielding Desperado

The following account of a knife encounter was told by James G. H. Colter, a Deputy Sheriff in Arizona during its rough-and-ready years, published in Thomas Edwin Farish's History of Arizona, vol. 6 (1915):
Julius Becker had a little store at Springerville, and the desperadoes used to come in every two or three months, and tell him to go out of the store, and they would take all the tobacco and clothes, and drink all the whiskey they wanted, and dance and have a good time, and keep the store about a day and a night, and then send word to Becker that he could come back and take charge of their store. He had a few goods and a barrel of whiskey setting there. One time they got to fighting in Springer's store, and shot two of themselves. At one time they took possession of the country, and I went to Camp Apache and the officer in command gave me three companies of soldiers, and came himself; the officer in command at Camp Apache and three companies of soldiers came out and restored order after a fight in which several of the desperadoes were killed. 
At another time I was threshing in Springerville Valley with my machine, the boys started over the valley, and I went over to a little Mexican town to get some things. I had neither six shooter nor gun. I was horseback and when I got up to the little store they told me that there was a man there that I had a warrant for, a desperado, and that he was in another room; that he had given up his arms, six shooter and guns, to them. I was not armed then either, and, foolishly, I went to arrest him. I went up to him and told him I had a warrant for his arrest. At that time they wore their pants inside their boots, and as I went up to him, he pulled a long dirk knife out of his bootleg and struck at me. The knife went straight between my eyes, then he kept following me back across the room with his knife and gave me five wounds in the body, near the heart, each time striking a rib, before I knocked him down and, with the assistance of others who had run in, overpowered him. I was cut up pretty bad. He got up after I knocked him down and came at me again. A fellow by the name of Stanley rushed in and grabbed the knife, and cut his hand.

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