Inspector John Henry Heard

Inspector John Henry Heard

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

End of Watch Monday, May 2, 1932

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John Henry Heard

Mounted Inspectors John Henry Heard and A. J. McKinney, stationed in El Paso, Texas, drove to the Tom Boles Ranch about 60 miles south of Hatchita, New Mexico to speak to the ranch owner about the illegal crossing of horses and cattle from Mexico. Claude Gatlin, a cowhand, had spent Sunday night, May 1, at the ranch. As the inspectors stepped from their car, Gatlin walked out of the house armed with an automatic rifle.

Mr. Boles was standing in the yard. Gatlin said, “What are you doing here?” Before Inspector Heard could reply, Gatlin fired four shots into Heard’s body. Three bullets struck him in the chest and one bullet struck him in the side of his jaw. His right thumb was shot off by one of the bullets. Inspector Heard fired twice at Gatlin before collapsing, but neither bullet hit his assailant. Gatlin ran into the house where Mrs. Boles and other women were working and dared Inspector McKinney to fire at him. Boles and McKinney took Heard immediately to Hachita and placed him on the eastbound passenger train to El Paso. Heard died that night at the hospital in El Paso. Three posses were organized to search for the assailant who fled to Mexico. The disposition of the case against Claude Gatlin is unknown at this time.

Heard's body was shipped to his hometown of Pecos in Reeves County for burial. The newspaper reported that Heard had been employed in the Customs Service for 10 years, and had been stationed in El Paso for 9 years. He was reported to have been divorced and survived by his son.


  • Age 50
  • Tour 10 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location New Mexico
  • Weapon Rifle; Automatic
  • Offender Not available


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Sir, you are remembered today.

Dede Hodge
CA citizen

May 6, 2013

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