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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

99 years later, your service is still being honored. I am researching the service of these two fine officers. If anyone has any information to contribute, please contact me,

Joe White
[email protected]

Joe White, Chief Probation Officer
NC Dept of Public Safety
March 15, 2016


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