Officer Down: The Murder of William J. Haynie

I wrote this article back in March, 2011 for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine.    

            We are now coming up on the first anniversary of Officer J.R. Searcy’s death.  This brings to mind another officer, who fell in the line of duty in Monroe almost 116 years earlier.  His name was William J. Haynie.

                We know very little about Officer Haynie.  According to the 1880 Morehouse Parish census, he was born in Alabama, was married to Virginia, and they both ran a hotel in Bastrop.  This census also states that his first name was William.  He is listed on memorials and memorial websites as W.J. Haynie.  We don’t know his reason for joining the Monroe Police Department.  We don’t even know when he joined or how long he served.  Officer Haynie earned a sad place in Monroe’s history by being the first City of Monroe Police Officer to fall in the line of duty.  What we know about his death comes from the following article found in the Richland Beacon-News, April 21, 1894.  The headline blared:  A TRAGEDY IN MONROE.

The Monroe News gives the following account of the shooting in that city on Friday night of last week:

It appears that two strangers, Henry Gulledge and J.O. Johnston, both of Lincoln parish, arrived in the city last evening and after nightfall started in to see the sights of the city.  Later in the night they concluded to take in the town and going to the Ruby Bell house in the eastern portion were admitted.  Hardly had they entered when Gulledge began cursing and raising a general racket.  He then went to the kitchen, demanded a cup of coffee from the cook, drew his pistol and threatened to shoot if it was not forthcoming.  “Ruby” thereupon interfered when he turned his wrath on her, drew a pistol and fired three shots at her, one of which lodged in the wardrobe in Ruby’s room.  Ruby then telephoned for the police and policeman Haynie responded to the call, but on his arrival they had left, and getting on their trail he followed the men to Five Points, where Haynie was joined by policeman Hugh Biggar.  The officers approached toward Gulledge and Johnston to arrest them, when the two started to run and Haynie called to them to halt.  Instead of doing so Gulledge drew his pistol.  Haynie told him to “drop the gun,” when Gulledge replied:  “Ill drop it and opened fire, first on Hanie then on Biggar and the fire was returned.  Gulledge receiving two wounds, one through the heart and one in the abdomen.  J.O. Johnston, of Downsville, was with Gulledge and when the shooting commenced he drew his pistol, fired one shot at the policemen and then ran off up DeSiard street, but a telephone message preceded him and he was arrested in front of Garretson’s Opera House a few minutes after the occurrence and is now in jail.
                                                                                  RUBY BELL’S TESTIMONY
                “This gentleman (pointing to Johnston) and the one that was killed were at my house last night and the other one went to the kitchen and told the cook he wanted a cup of coffee and cursed the cook and pulled his pistol, and I went to him and told him he must be quiet.  He cursed me and tripped me up, and I asked him what he meant, and told him that I had protection and I would call an officer.  I went in my room to find my police whistle.  He followed me to my room door and fired three times, one of the balls hitting the wardrobe in my room.  I sent for Mr. Haynie who came after the men had left.

She further stated that Johnston did not raise any disturbance and that he was trying to quiet Gulledge.
                                                                         MR. H. BIGGAR’S TESTIMONY

“I was in Johnsonville last night looking for a Negro I wanted to arrest and as I came back through Five Points I was told that Mr. Haynie wanted me.  I came on up town and locked the Negro up and went back to Five Points.  Two parties came along and went over to Henry Barnes, and at that time Mr. Haynie came up in Habevan’s bus and got out.  We walked down the street to Faulk & Renaud’s and met the two men (Johnston and Gulledge) who began to run.  Mr. Haynie called to them to “halt I want to see you,” and this gentleman (meaning Johnston) fired one shot and then run and kept running, but the other one stopped in a dark place across the street and began firing fast at Mr. Haynie and then at me.  He leveled his pistol at me and I dropped to my knees and began firing at him.”

Gulledge remarked, “well, gentlemen, you got me.” And Mr. Perry McCabe ran up and wrenched his pistol from him when he fell on his face.

The coroner’s jury rendered a verdict that W.J. Haynie came to his death by a shot from a pistol in the hands of Henry Gulledge and J.O. Johnston, and that Henry Gulledge came to his death by shots from a pistol in the hands of W.J. Haynie and Hugh Biggar in the discharge of their duties.

J.O. Johnston is now in the parish jail to await a preliminary trial.
                Both men used 38 calibre S.&W. revolvers.  Gulledge was a farmer living near Downsville, Lincoln parish, and leaves a wife and two children.
                Officer Haynie was shot in the stomach and lived only about one hour.  He was a gallant member of Ouachita Fire Company No. 1, a member of the Knights of Pythias (Stonewall Lodge), and of Ouachita Lodge No. 2, L.O.O.F., by which orders he was buried in Bastrop, his former home.       

Officer Haynie was laid to rest in the Old Bastrop City Cemetery.  Twelve years later, Virginia was buried beside him.  Haynie was to be the first of six officers Monroe has lost in the line of duty through the years:  Paul W. Hilton (1900), W.R. Roberts (1912), Tom Watson (1913), C.M. Earle (1920) and Sgt. Ocie Desay Howard (1961).  The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office has lost two now:  Sheriff John H. Wisner (1870) and Corp. J.R. Searcy (2010).  There is one more that I call the lost officer.  He is not included on the Officer Down memorial page, probably because his town does not exist anymore.  We don’t even know his first name.  Constable of the Ward and Policeman of the town, Constable Fitzgerald was patrolling the town of Trenton (now West Monroe), when he was gunned down in 1878.  He left behind a wife and three children.  Rest in peace.

Since writing the above, I have found several other officers in Ouachita Parish who have been added to the Officer Down memorial page. I even found Constable Fitzgerald’s first name and middle initial (William C.)!

One thought on “Officer Down: The Murder of William J. Haynie

  1. Thanks so much for this!!!

    On Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 11:12 AM Ouachita Parish History Tidbits wrote:

    > ouachitaparishhistory posted: ” I wrote this article back in March, 2011 > for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine. We are now coming up on > the first anniversary of Officer J.R. Searcy’s death. This brings to mind > another officer, who fell in the line of duty in Monroe almo” >


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