The downtown streets of Augusta were deserted as Police officer Steven A. Jenkins and another patrolman, Fred McCall made their nightly rounds on foot patrol around 12:45 a.m. on Friday, April 18, 1924.
As Jenkins approached the Standard Oil Company filing station on the northeast corner of 4th and State Streets, through a window he could see a man crouching in front of the safe in the office.
Jenkins drew his service revolver and entered the business through the unlocked front door. Upon hearing the officer enter, the suspect hurried to the rest room to hide. Jenkins called for the suspect to come out and surrender, but the suspect refused.
Jenkins fired two shots through the door of the rest room and the would-be bandit emerged with his revolver lowered at his side. Suddenly he began firing at Jenkins. As reported in the Augusta Gazette, "a sensational gun battle" erupted.
The first shot fired at Jenkins wounded the officer, but he returned fire, shooting four more shots and emptying his revolver. Three shots struck the suspect in the chest and one shot struck him in the leg.
Jenkins was struck by four bullets, as well. One bullet grazed his left shoulder, one struck him in the right leg and another in the left leg. The fourth bullet struck him in the right hip and stopped near the edge of his spine.
The suspect lived only seconds after the final shot rang out. Patrolman McCall rushed to the scene. Police Chief W.A. Michaels was called and McCall took Jenkins to the Augusta Hospital, located at 619 Santa Fe St. Despite his wounds, Jenkins was able to stand and walk with assistance into the hospital. He was put on an operating table and the bullet that had entered at his hip was removed.
The attending doctor stated that Jenkins' condition was serious, but he would likely recover quickly, barring an infection.
The body of the bandit was taken to Dunsford Funeral Home, where the morgue was also located, and was put on display for viewing. It was reported that several hundred people viewed the body, but no one could identify the man.
The next day, Saturday, April 19th, some employees of Grant Oil Company identified the suspect as Harry Parsons, a former employee and former resident of Augusta. It was believed that Parsons owned a car, but it was never located.
Investigators found that Parsons had gained entry to the building through an open rear window and that it appeared that he had unlocked the front door, perhaps to aide in his escape. The dial had been broken off the safe, however access was not gained before being interrupted by Officer Jenkins.
Page 2 of 2 - Some felt that Parsons may have had an accomplice who got away, but the theory was never confirmed. Parsons' wife told police that he had left her in Arkansas City less than three hours before being shot and killed by Officer Jenkins. Police believed he had traveled to Augusta by car. Mrs. Parsons claimed her husband did not have their car with him, but refused to disclose the location of the car.
Harry Parsons, 33, was laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery on April 21, 1924. He was survived by his wife, a father, two sisters, and a half brother.
A jury was empaneled by coroner W.E. Turner to hear evidence in the shooting, but was expected to be dismissed until Jenkins could testify.
It was also reported that about $400 had been collected, mainly from Augusta residents, for Mrs. Jenkins and her son.
Meanwhile, Officer Jenkins' condition steadily worsened and he was unable to overcome the infection which had set in. The Gazette's headlines on Saturday, April 26, 1924 read "Steve Jenkins died of wounds last night."
He was survived by his wife, Grace; a a 14-year-old son, Charles; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.A. Jenkins of Knoxville, Tenn.; three brothers and three sisters. He was born in Pointsburg, Tenn. and was 43 years old. Jenkins had been a police officer for 16 years, with the last three in Augusta.
The Baptist Church was filled past capacity for his funeral on Tuesday, April 29, 1924. City offices closed for the afternoon and most businesses, as well. Rev. Dan A. Smith delivered the message Honor to Whom Honor is Due."
The eulogy stated that "he was considered one of the best officers in the history of Augusta. He was fearless and always ready to do his duty."
Officer Jenkins and Harry Parsons both were buried in Augusta's Elmwood Cemetery. Their story is just one of the interesting tales that will shared on the Cemetery Tour on Saturday, Oct. 19th.