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9/11
New Hero Search Jesse L. Morris - Jul. 08, 1927 (278)

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Miami Police Dept. Patch
Resided: FL, USA
Born: Jul. 06, 1903  
Fallen: Jul. 08, 1927
Race/Sex: Caucasian Male / 24 yrs. of age
Agency
Dept: Miami Police Dept. - FL
400 NW 2nd Avenue  
Miami, FL   33128   USA
(305)603-6640
County: Miami-Dade
Dept. Type: Municipal/Police
Hero's Rank: Patrolman
Sworn Date: 1925
FBI Class: Homicide - Gun
Weapon Class: Firearm
Agency URL: Click Here
Bio: Jesse L. Morris, 24, was born on July 6, 1903, in Stonewall, OK, to John and Rachael Condren Morris. He grew up in Lawrence, OK, which existed as a town only from 1907 to 1935. Lawrence was a "company town" as it was comprised almost totally of employees of the Portland Cement Plant (a limestone quarry). Jesse's father died when he was only 7 and his mother married his step-father, Vard Freeman, a "powder monkey" at the quarry. Jesse was the only child of John and Rachael Morris but he grew up with two half-brothers and two half-sisters.

The Depression hit Oklahoma hard and Jesse decided to "try his fortune" elsewhere---first in California and then in Florida. He moved to Miami from Tulsa, OK, in 1924 at the age of 21 and joined the Miami Police Department in 1925. His brother-in-law, Marvin Faircloth, was also a Miami police officer. Jesse had been an officer for two years at the time of his death. Morris had only recently been discharged from the hospital and returned to work after being seriously injured from a fall while running after a suspect in the "Negro District."

Jesse Morris met and married his wife, Vera Esther Faircloth, in Miami when she was 18 and he was 24. Vera had moved to Miami with her family from Adel, GA, five years earlier and had worked as a telephone operator until the time of her husband's death.

Survived by:
Vera Esther Morris - Wife

Officer Morris was survived by his pregnant wife, Vera Esther Morris; his stepfather and mother, Vard and Rachel Freeman; two half-sisters, Agnes Freeman, 16, and Clara Freeman, 13; and two half-brothers, Jim Freeman, 18, and Jack Freeman, 6. The Freeman family lived in Okay, Ark.

Fatal Incident Summary
Offender: Charles Lee
  
Location: FL   USA   Fri. Jul. 08, 1927
Summary: Jesse L. Morris, 24, a two year veteran of the Miami Police Department was shot and killed on Friday, July 8, 1927, at 10:35PM in Overtown by a shot-gun wielding man who had "run amuck" and shot six others, one fatally, before engaging in a "pitched battle" with police. He became the seventh Miami officer killed in the line of duty.

Patrolmen Morris and John Holland were sitting in a police car with Det. Leon Sawyer near a gas station at N.W. 2nd Ave. and 11th St. The three policemen were about to go off duty when they saw a black woman run into the gas station followed by a black male with a shotgun. The man yelled to the girl, "If you come back out here, I'll kill every one of you." The policemen got out of their car and ran to the corner. Her pursuer, later identified as Charles Lee, saw the policemen when he was about 50 feet away from them and brought his shotgun to his shoulder. Morris fired five times and Holland six, the latter reported. The negro's charge founds its mark. Morris staggered to Holland, saying, 'I'm shot' and fell to the sidewalk. Detective Sawyer called an ambulance, but B.P. White, a traffic officer who had heard the shooting while passing through the neighborhood, helped Morris into a passing automobile. Charles Lee then ran back into the filling station and the officers heard another shot. (Miami Daily News, 691927) The two policeman had been "out-gunned" as they were firing at the shot-gun wielding assailant with revolvers. The Miami Herald indicated that Lee fired the fatal blast at Morris after being hit first by a bullet fired by one of the officers who opened fire on Lee when he aimed the shotgun at them. Officer Morris was hit with a "load of buckshot in his right side" and abdomen. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died 40 minutes after being shot. Ten officers were waiting to give blood for a transfusion when Morris died.

Several other policemen, "mostly reserves," reached the scene and found Charles Lee's wounded wife (the woman seen earlier being chased by Lee into the gas station), Annie, 26, lying on the running board of an automobile at the rear of a house at 163 N.W. 11th Terr. Inside the house they found Charles Lee, the assailant, seriously wounded with gunshots to the head, lying on a bed with a double-barrel shotgun under him. One chamber was still loaded. Lee was arrested and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died two days later.

Other wounded persons "were found in all parts of the neighborhood." Anthony Lee, 64, the father of Charles Lee, had been mortally wounded by his son and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died four hours later. The Miami Daily News noted that shortly before his death he made a "will disposing of the filling station and other property" (likely excluding the son who had just shot him).

Four other persons (in addition to Lee's wife and father) were found to have been shot by Lee in the rampage that led to the killing of Officer Morris. Three of the four other wounded were women, and two of the women (one being Annie Lee) were critically wounded.

Disposition: Charles Lee, 29, had been shot four times in the head (with one shot reaching the brain) in the shootout with Patrolmen Morris and Holland and died at 5:00PM on Sunday, July 10, at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Source: Book       Excerpted in part or in whole from Dr. Wilbanks book-

FORGOTTEN HEROES: POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN DADE COUNTY, FL, 1895-1995

by William Wilbanks

Louisville: Turner Publications

1996

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