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Officer Matt Ransom Gwatney | Tarboro Police Department, North Carolina Tarboro Police Department, North Carolina


Matt Ransom Gwatney

Tarboro Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch: Saturday, March 3, 1917

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 27

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun; Revolver

Offender: Sentenced to 30 years

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Officer Matt Gwatney and Officer Plummer Riggan were shot and killed while searching a house for illegal whiskey. When the officers and Police Chief Frank Pulley discovered the illegal stash the owner opened fire on them, killing both officers and wounding the city's mayor, who was with them. The suspect was subdued by Chief Pulley and a citizen who heard the shots and rushed in to help.

The suspect was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison October 8, 1917. In 1897 the suspect was acquitted of murdering a man in Bethel. He died in prison September 30, 1920.

Chief Pulley went insane as a result of the tragedy and had to be committed to a mental institution in Raleigh. A few weeks later he escaped and walked to Tarboro. Miraculously as he reached the end of his walk his sanity had returned to him. Mayor Keech recovered from his wounds.

Both officers are buried beside each other in Tarboro at the Greenwood Cemetery on Howard Avenue. The house they were killed in was located on Trade Street where the Fountains on the Albermarle Retirement Community is now located.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Officer Plummer Ray Riggan
Tarboro Police Department, North Carolina
End of Watch: Saturday, March 3, 1917
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 92nd anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service to the native state of myself and my cherished son Larry Lasater who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

The bullets that kill our beloved officers kill a part of everyone who cared for them as evidenced by your Chief's illness.

Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Loya

Phyllis Loya
mother of fallen officer Larry Lasater
March 3, 2009


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