Officers Killed

Deputy Marshal James C. A. Parsons

According to newspaper accounts at the time, Marshal H. Shields was summoned to a local hotel on Tuesday morning, June 30, 1903, after a man who was living at the hotel made some obscene remarks to some children.

The Marshal contacted the man, who gave his name as John Smith. Marshal Shields decided not to arrest him at that time, but to first obtain an arrest warrant. He instructed Deputy Marshal James C. A. Parsons to watch Smith.

In the late afternoon or early evening hours of that same day, Smith became disorderly and Deputy Marshal Parsons attempted to place him under arrest. Smith resisted arrest, and a gun battle ensued. Both men were armed with revolvers. Several shots were exchanged; the Deputy Marshal emptied his revolver and borrowed another from a saloon. Smith finally shot and killed Deputy Marshal Parsons, then fled Centralia.

Local newspapers recount the pursuit of Smith by a posse and numerous sightings of him as far away as Tacoma in the days following the murder, but no record of his apprehension has been found.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Deputy Marshal Parsons was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest.

On May 11, 1998, Governor Gary Locke awarded the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor posthumously to Deputy Marshal Parsons in a special ceremony at the Criminal Justice Training Center in Burien. Elmer Parsons of Centralia attended the ceremony to accept the medal on behalf of the Parsons family.

Officer William H. Smith

In the early morning hours of December 23, 1910, Police Officer William Smith, (pictured wearing the black hat), was struck by a train and killed.

According to a story published in the December 30, 1910 edition of the Chehalis Bee-Nugget, Officer Smith was crushed to death early in the morning in the Centralia rail yards by a switch engine that was backing up as he watched two other trains going south on separate tracks.

On May 10, 2011, Smith's family was presented with a plaque at the Centralia City Council Meeting, acknowledging their family's sacrifice.

The names of Parsons and Smith are both etched into the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC.

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