Dispute Over Fish Leads to 3 Dead Cops


Perp dies in hail of bullets and fire

Jimmy Grayson and Newt Decker had spent November 15, 1908, drinking and fishing in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  They had a successful day at both as they stumbled towards the shack that Decker called home to split up the day’s catch.  A dispute ensued over who’s fish was who’s.  Words led to violence and Decker cracked Grayson over the head with a brick. 

Jimmy Grayson fled and contacted Assistant Chief Henry Klaber of the Okmulgee Police Department.  The Chief responded to Decker’s home along with Special Officer Felix Chapman and his brother Ralph Chapman. 

Unfortunately for these men, Newt Decker was a gunsmith and a crack shot.  As the officers approached, Decker emerged from the house with a pistol in each hand.  He killed Chief Klaber with the first shot.  Felix Chapman tried to return fire but was also killed.  His brother was also killed by the crazed gunman. 

More police arrived on the scene and a wild gun battle ensued.  Richard Farr, the Chief of the Okmulgee Police was shot twice but managed to wound Decker.  Chief Farr survived his injuries, but the Sheriff of Okmulgee County was not as fortunate.  Sheriff Edgar Robinson was shot and killed after he arrived on the scene by the sharpshooting madman.   


With no way of getting close to Decker’s shack, a new approach was needed.  The remaining officers were able to get close to the house neighboring Decker’s shack and set it on fire.  The homes in the shanty town were closely stacked together and soon the fire spread to Decker’s own home.  Decker attempted to flee but was met with a hail of bullets.  He retreated back into his house where he died as bullets and fire ripped through the house.

Over 500 bullets were fired in the wild gunbattle.  In addition to the four dead, seven civilians and officers also suffered non-fatal wounds.  The perp, Newt Decker, had compiled a long rap sheet as a transient through Texas and Oklahoma.  He was known as a troublemaker and a remarkably talented marksman.  Decker was black, and the incident almost caused a race riot like the one that occurred years later in nearby Tulsa.  The Governor of Oklahoma activated the militia to occupy the town if needed, quelling the potential violence.  

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