Sheriff Wyatt Luther Nugent, Dpty. Delmer Lee Brunson
GRANT PARISH, LA
April 24, 1936
Sheriff W. L. Nugent, Dpty. D. L. Brunson of Grant Parish Are Slain By Walter Johnson In Cattle Dipping Dispute Slayer Flees Into Lake Iatt Swamp, Is Sought By State and Parish Authorities
DOUBLE FUNERAL FOR OFFICERS THURSDAY
A double funeral for Sheriff W. L. Nugent and Deputy D. L. Brunson, who were killed Tuesday near Colfax, was held at the Colfax Baptist Church Thursday morning at 10 o'clock. Interment of Nugent was made at Liberty Chapel cemetery north of Dry Prong and interment of Brunson was made in Bethel cemetery. Nugent had served two terms as sheriff of Grant Parish and was re-elected Tuesday in the general election. Brunson had served as deputy eight years under Nugent.
Father of Johnson Held
Walter Johnson, 41, Aloha farmer who fled into the impenetrable Lake Iatt swamp was charged with murder Wednesday for the slaying of Sheriff W. L. Nugent and Deputy Sheriff D. L. Brunson late Tuesday.
His father, 84-year old Sam Johnson, was arrested and spirited away from Colfax to an unannounced jail. He will be held under $ 1,900 appearance bond as a material witness in the case.
Meanwhile, state police and local authorities armed with guns, tear gas, bombs and bloodhounds combed the densely-wooded section north of Colfax where Walter Johnson was arrested and had escaped following the shooting.
Had Opposed Dipping
Claiming that dipping sickened cattle, Johnson and his father had repeatedly refused to allow their stock to be dipped. An order from the eighth district court ordering the younger Johnson to show cause why he should not be kept from interfering with officers was served by Sheriff Nugent Tuesday morning. That afternoon, in company with the federal range riders the two local officers attempted to load several of Johnson's cattle on a truck to transport them to the dipping vat. Walter Johnson opened fire on the range riders with a rifle. He was hidden some distance away in a wooded area. It was when Brunson and Nugent attempted to capture Johnson from the rear that they were shot to death. Hearing the shots, but unaware of what had happened, the range riders awaited nearby for an hour before advancing into the woods. They found the two bodies. Walter Johnson had escaped.
Shotgun Slugs Fatal
New light was thrown on the case when Dr. J. H. Sandifer, Grant Parish Coroner, announced that both Nugent and Brunson were killed by No. 6 buckshot slugs fired from a shotgun. Walter Johnson at first was thought to have fired a .30-.30 calibre rifle.
This led officers to believe that another person might have been concealed in the woods, with Walter Johnson when he opened fire upon federal range riders as they attempted to load his cattle into trucks for dipping. It was possible, however, that Johnson had used two weapons, they said."Judging from the range of the shots," Dr. S. L. Calhoun, Rapides Coroner said, "Nugent received two wounds in the head from one discharge of the weapon and Brunson's wounds were received from three different discharges."
Rains Obliterate Trail
Heavy rains the night before rendered Johnson's trail virtually cold to bloodhounds, transported there earlier in the day from Angola prison farm. Brig.-Gen. Louis F. Guerre, head of the state police, who is directing the search, stated that his men expected to capture the fugitive within a short time. When captured, officers said, Walter Johnson will be immediately taken to a jail outside Grant Parish for safekeeping. Feelings are more than high in Colfax and mob action was feared should he be returned to that town. Sheriff U. T. Downs of Rapides, Sheriff Bryant Sholars of Winn, and Sheriff Henderson Jordan of Bienville, headed posses of local citizens in scouring the area. They located a truck belonging to Johnson on a country road about one-half mile from the scene of the shooting. Bloodhounds were unable to pick up the trail from this point, however _______ . The shooting, which was the worst crime in the history of Grant Parish, followed months of dissension between certain cattlemen and officers over enforcement of the tick eradication law.
While 18 state police and sheriffs of three parishes aided in the search, the manhunt progressed slowly due to the inaccessibility of the swampy area. Nugent, former clerk of court, was to begin his ninth year as sheriff of this parish. He is married and father of 10 children. Brunson also is married and father of three children.
A double funeral was held in the Colfax Baptist Church at 10 o'clock Thursday morning, the Rev. D. L. Goodman, pastor, officiating. From the church, the funeral party proceeded to Bethel Chapel where Deputy Brunson was buried. A few miles further Sheriff Nugent was buried at the Liberty Chapel. Sheriffs of the neighboring parishes were active pall bearers, and which included Sheriff Bryant Sholars, Winn, Sheriff Bill Payne, Natchitoches, Sheriff U. T. Downs, Rapides, Sheriff Floyd Jones, Red River.
There is a book that has the history of Sheriff Nugent and his family. It can be purchased from the author, John A Chelette.
"Nugent's of Nelm's Camp"
by John A Chelette
John A Chelette
10377 Highway 8
Colfax, LA 71417-5912
P.O. Box 548
Colfax, LA 71417-0548
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