Special Agent William Allen Adkins

Special Agent William Allen Adkins

Missouri Pacific Railroad Police Department, Railroad Police

End of Watch Tuesday, September 30, 1919

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William Allen Adkins

Special Agent W.D. Adkins was shot and killed from ambush in the area of Hoop Spur, Phillips County, Arkansas.

Agent Adkins was accompanying a Phillips County sheriff's deputy and a jail trusty to arrest several members of a family who had been involved in a disturbance. During the drive their vehicle suffered a punctured tire and they pulled over in front of the Hoop Spur Church.

Unbeknownst to the officers, black sharecroppers were in the church holding a planning a meeting in an effort to obtain higher payments from white plantation owners in the area. The meeting organizers had placed armed guards around the church to prevent opponents from entering. Believing Agent Adkins and the deputy were there to disrupt the meeting, the men opened fire on them without warning. Agent Adkins was killed and the deputy was wounded.

The events resulted in a large race war in Phillips County over the following weeks in which multiple black and white citizens were killed. Twenty-two people were eventually charged with murder.

Special Agent Adkins was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 36
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Arkansas
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender 22 charged with murder

Most Recent Reflection

View all 5 Reflections

A horrible and needless series of events which could have easily been avoided if those who opened fire had simply asked what they were doing there. It's clear that the murderers of Agent Adkins outnumbered those in the law enforcement group, what harm would have come with asking what they were doing there? NONE!

The entire situation is heartbreaking and disgusting, and yet, the first casualty was a Law Enforcement Officer who was innocent of what he died for. It happened a lot in the past, still does at times and probably always will. Race does not matter, total lack of simple communication is sometimes the worst enemy and here, there was clearly a lack of communication.

Rest in Peace, Brother and may you be Blessed by God, as I'm sure you have been.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Department

September 30, 2018

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