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Parsons, Deputy Marshal James C.A.
End of Watch:
Tuesday, June 30, 1903
On Tuesday, June 30, 1903, Marshal Henry Shields and Deputy Marshal James Parsons of the Centralia Police Department were summoned to a hotel in town. They were called to handle the report of a male who lived there who had made some obscene remarks to some children.
They contacted the man, who identified himself as John Smith. Marshal Shields chose not to arrest the man and instead chose to obtain an arrest warrant the next morning. He asked Deputy Marshal Parsons to stay at the hotel to watch Smith.
In the late-afternoon, Smith became disorderly and Deputy Marshal Parsons attempted to arrest him. Smith resisted arrest and a gun battle ensued outside on Tower Avenue. Smith had been armed with a revolver the entire time. After several shots were exchanged, Deputy Marshal Parsons had emptied his revolver. He had to borrow another from a patron at a nearby saloon.
As the gunfight continued, Smith shot Deputy Marshal Parsons once in the chest, killing him.
Smith left Centralia and fled north.
Newspaper reports recount the pursuit of Smith by a posse. He was spotted as far north as Tacoma, but there's no record that he was ever captured.