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Constable James A. Jett | Roane County Constable's Office, Tennessee Roane County Constable's Office, Tennessee

Constable

James A. Jett

Roane County Constable's Office, Tennessee

End of Watch: Friday, February 8, 1924

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 54

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 2/8/1924

Weapon: Gun; Unknown type

Suspect: Apprehended

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Constable James Jett and Deputy John Swan, of the Roane County Sheriff's Office, were shot and killed as they attempted to raid an illegal liquor still seven miles north of Rockwood, Tennessee.

Several suspects were hiding in an ambush position in a barn. The suspects shot and killed both officers and attempted to conceal their bodies. The suspects tried to move the still to another location and then fled the scene. After several hours, the Roane County sheriff and Harriman City police chief went to the scene and discovered the two bodies.

Two suspects were eventually apprehended and charged in connection with the officer's murders. One was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was eventually released and died in Owosso, Michigan, on April 7, 1971. The other was convicted of second degree murder but the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed his case in 1927. On February 25, 1951, he was shot and killed at a cafe in Harriman, Tennessee.

Constable Jett was survived by his wife, three sons, and six daughters.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Deputy Sheriff John Franklin Swann
Roane County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee
End of Watch: Friday, February 8, 1924
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection

I am the great grandson of James Jett, Walter Reed. My grand mother, Jenny Jett, was the oldest of the Jett children. She told my sisters and brothers and me about the shooting. She said that she was told at school that the moonshiners kids that they were going to kill her father if he tried to bust their still. I have a black and white picture of great grandpa's pistol and handcuffs, they have little dings on them where bullets hit them during the ambush.

There is no question the moonshiners were cowards, who waited for an opportune moment, during which great grandpa would have no chance to defend himself.

Jenny Jett worked at the hosiery mill and gave her earnings to her mother to help support the family after her father died. Great grandma was apparently an excellent shot with a pistol, and according to my father, he would stop his car a hundred feet from her home, honk the horn and yell. "Grandma! It's J.B., don't shoot!" when he went to visit her.

The Jett family is a very real part of America, with very colorful people in it. While my father's name was Reed, I am very proud to have Jett blood in my veins!

Walter Reed
Great grandson
August 29, 2014

 

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