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Police Officer Bryon Merritt | Beaumont Police Department, Texas Beaumont Police Department, Texas

Police Officer

Bryon Merritt

Beaumont Police Department, Texas

End of Watch: Sunday, December 17, 1905

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 29

Tour: 2 weeks

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun

Offender: suspect killed by another officer

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Walter (also referred to as Henry) Powell, about 19 years of age, was noticed walking along the street car tracks in Beaumont with a pistol in each hand. Motorman Bryon Merritt, who was commissioned as a Beaumont police officer, brought his street car to a stop just in front of Powell. Stepping to the right side of the vestibule, he ordered Powell to consider himself under arrest. Powell spoke to Merritt, and asked him if he had a gun, and on Merritt answering in the negative, Powell immediately raised one of his revolvers and fired at close range at Merritt, striking him in the chest. Merritt ran probably twenty steps after being shot and fell face downward at the side of the track and died.

Powell proceeded to nearby house and told the resident to take his wife and child and flee because he intended to kill the officers coming after him and die with them. Deputy Constable Elijah Pevito, Deputy Sheriff Reed Tevis, Beaumont Policemen John Sheffield and Nott Smith arrived, and at once proceeded to surround the house. Deputy Constable Pevito approached the house in front while the other officers took up positions one each side and the rear of the building. Suddenly a shot rang out, and Deputy Constable Pevito was seen staggering backward near the fence and finally fell. His heart was penetrated and death resulted almost instantly.

Deputy Sheriff Tevis remained at the rear of the building, and Powell was ordered to come out. Powell came out with two revolvers still clashed in his hands. Deputy Sheriff Tevis ordered him to drop the guns, whereupon the murderer made a move to shoot when the deputy sheriff raised a Winchester and fired one shot which struck Powell in the temple, penetrating his head, and killing him instantly. As Powell fell, one of his revolvers was discharged, but the bullet went up in the air.

Bryon Merritt, 29, applied for a position on the Beaumont police force at the first of December and asked for a 15-day lay off from the street car company to see if liked police work. He was assigned the night beat at Pearl and Crockett Streets for 7-10 days. He decided to return to the street car company a few days before he was killed. All newspaper accounts reported that Merritt was still commissioned as a Beaumont police officer and he was attempting to arrest Powell when he was killed. He was survived by a wife, Gertrude, and two small children. He had three brothers and two sisters living. He was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Deputy Constable Elijah Pevito
Jefferson County Constable's Office - Precinct 1, Texas
End of Watch: Sunday, December 17, 1905
Cause: Gunfire

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Officer Merritt,
On today, the 110th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Beaumont.


United States Border Patrol
December 18, 2015


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