Night Marshal Thomas Preston Stephens

Night Marshal Thomas Preston Stephens

Jenkins County Sheriff's Office, Georgia

End of Watch Sunday, April 13, 1919

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Thomas Preston Stephens

Night Marshal Thomas Stephens and Deputy Walter Brown were shot and killed after responding to a report that several men were creating a disturbance in front of local church being used for a lodge meeting.

When Deputy Brown and Marshal Stephens attempted to place a man under arrest, the suspect's father drove up and opened fire killing them both. They managed to return fire killing four trouble makers, three who were their killer's sons. Vigilantes arrived on the scene burning the church to the ground and threw two rioters into the fire killing both. The shooting deaths of the two officers resulted in several people being killed and several buildings and homes being burned in Millen. Another son of the killer was lynched. The incident became known as one of the 25 "Red Summer Riots", of 1919. Other race riots occurred in Washington D.C., Knoxville Tennessee, Longview Texas, Phillips County, Arkansas, Omaha,Nebraska, and most dramatically Chicago.

The gunman was arrested for both murders. He was convicted of Deputy Brown's murder and sentenced to death. He was awarded a new trial and acquitted. A third trial resulted in the acquittal for the murder of Marshal Stephens. He was released from Jail on May 30, 1923.

Marshal Stephens had served with the agency for 3 years. He was survived by his wife, five children, mother, and three siblings.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 3 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Acquitted

Most Recent Reflection

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Marshal Stephens,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you to you and your fellow Officer who was also killed in that incident for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Jenkins County.

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol
El Paso Station

April 13, 2019

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