Constable John O'Brien

Constable John O'Brien

Wahalak Constable's Office, Mississippi

End of Watch Monday, December 24, 1906

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John O'Brien

Constable John O'Brien was shot and killed by a man whom he attempted to arrest for stabbing the conductor aboard the Ohio and Mobile Passenger Train. The incident triggered one of the worst race riots in Mississippi's history, and practically destroyed Wahalak, a town of about 225 people in Kemper County.

The trouble started when a fight broke out between two men while the train was between Scooba and Wahalak. When the conductor attempted to separate the two combatants one of them attacked him with a knife. The conductor, who was mortally wounded, fired on his assailant, seriously wounding him and killing another man. When Wahalak was reached the suspect shot and instantly killed Constable O'Brien when he attempted to arrest him.

A mob of citizens pursued the suspect into a nearby woods where they captured and hanged him. Not being satisfied with his punishment, they later located and lynched his two sons and then lynched two more men. A riot broke out in Wahalak. Several buildings and homes were burned and a dozen men were killed. Governor Vardaman ordered the state militia to the scene. Shortly after their arrival law and order was restored.


  • Age 54
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Lynched

Most Recent Reflection

View all 5 Reflections

Constable O'Brien your sacrifice will never be forgotten! Thank you for your dedicated service to the Citizens of and Kemper County! Continue to Rest in Peace.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of GOD." Matthew 5:9

Corporal Tony Dunn
Mississippi Highway Patrol, Troop D

December 24, 2015

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