City Marshal Dumas Forced to Shoot “Bear” Lewis
Officer Called to Quell Disturbance in Colored Cafe – Lewis Opens Fire on Marshal, Who Brings Gun Into Action and Shots Lewis Twice, Who Dies From Wounds – Stray Bullets Hit Three Bystandards.
Bad Negro Shot Resisting Arrest: John Lewis, alias “Bear” Lewis, colored, died at the county jail Monday night of two bullet wounds, one through the abdomen and the other in the left side and ranging downward, received in a pistol duel about 10 o’clock Saturday night with Marshal W. C. Dumas.
The shooting took place in the restaurant of Alf Hill, colored, located on the row leading down North Main street just off the north side of the public square. Marshal Dumas had been notified by someone that Lewis was in the restaurant creating a disturbance. He was drinking or doped and was very disorderly in his conduct. Mr. Dumas proceeded to the place without delay and found Lewis there.
It is said that the marshal accosted Lewis civilly, with the intention of investigating as to the truth of his reported conduct. But the negro, armed with a revolver, would not give the officer a chance to make inquiry. It is said by those witnessing the affray that Dumas approached him by placing his hand on Lewis’ right shoulder, the negro simultaneously drawing his gun from his hip pocket with his left hand, almost instantly opening fire on the officer, whom he was facing. The first shot, aimed at the officer’s head, missed its mark. Dumas, by moving his head to the side, dodged the bullet at the right moment, and immediately drew his revolver, firing at the negro, who kept up firing, backing out toward the door.
Two bullets from Dumas’ revolver took effect in the negro’s abdomen, but the wounds failed to drop him to the floor and he succeeded in reaching the outside, where it is thought he was assisted by a friend in escaping arrest at the time.
Stray bullets from Lewis’ pistol struck three colored youths in the restaurant at the time the shooting took place. They were Julius Vaughan, aged 20, wounded in the leg above the knee; Troy Bell aged 13, wounded in the leg, and Willie Wynne, aged 25, also shot in the leg.
Witnesses to the shooting were extremely excited and their stories of the shooting differ in many respects. Mr. Dumas, it is said, shot four times, and Lewis, it is alleged, emptied his revolver. It is the belief of those present that the shots from Lewis’ pistol accounted for the wounding of the three above named boys, as the officer was shooting in an opposite direction, and two bullets from his pistol took effect in the body of his assailant.
After the shooting was over a posse of officers was quickly organized for the apprehension of Lewis, who succeeded in concealing his whereabouts until Monday morning. He was found Monday morning in a serious condition at the home of Jim Lake, colored, near Rialto. The officers, however, removed him from his place of hiding to the county jail for medical treatment. A bullet was removed from his abdomen near the naval that entered his left side. The other bullet was not located exactly by the attending physicians, though they were of the opinion that it ranged downward from his lungs into the region of his kidneys. Either wound, it is said, would have likely caused his death.
The three boys who were wounded are not seriously hurt and all of them will recover.
[ Bad Negro Shot Resisting Arrest , The Covington Leader, Covington, Tenn., 7 Dec 1922]