Inspector Stephen S. Dawson

Inspector Stephen S. Dawson

United States Department of the Treasury - United States Customs Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Tuesday, February 28, 1928

Add to My Heroes

Stephen S. Dawson

Inspector Stephen S. Dawson was one of the most widely regarded officers on the Mexican border and he had been in numerous gun battles and had killed a number of smugglers. There was a standing reward of $500 among smugglers to anyone who killed Inspector Dawson.

At around 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 27, 1928, Inspectors Dawson and T.S. Rhode received information that liquor smugglers would be bringing a load across the Rio Grande River in the Smelter District of El Paso County. The two inspectors saw two men cross the river and ordered them to halt. The inspectors started to approach the suspects when they dropped behind an embankment. Six to eight smugglers were believed to have been hiding behind the embankment and opened fire on the officers. Inspector Dawson was hit in the chest and thigh. Inspector Rhode wounded one smuggler, but his friends dragged his body back across the river. Although Inspector Dawson was weak from the bullet wound to his left lung, he did not fall and emptied his pistol as he walked to the roadside and sat down. Inspector Rhode stopped an automobile and asked the driver to transport Dawson to the hospital. Dawson died at 4:10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 1928.

Dawson was survived by his wife, Nora, and two sons, Thomas S. Dawson and John E. Dawson. He was buried in the Masonic Section of Concordia Cemetery, El Paso, Texas. The newspaper reported that Dawson had been an officer for the customs service, immigration service and city health department for the past 20 years.


  • Age 55
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Texas
  • Incident Date Monday, February 27, 1928
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Escaped into Mexico

Most Recent Reflection

View all 7 Reflections

THank you for your service Sir, RIP

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)

February 28, 2012

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.