Written by Clay Riley – William Clarence Fuston was the first Brownwood Police Officer killed in the line of duty. Patrolman Fuston, was a five-year veteran of the Brownwood Police Department. His watch ended when he was shot four times by a prison escapee and died an hour later at Medical Arts Hospital.
Killer Caught by a Dublin Farmer
Vince Jordon, a farmer who lived about six miles northeast of Dublin, commanded the Brownwood killer to “hand over that gun as I don’t want any shooting around here,” and W.T. Haley handed over the weapon peacefully. This was the climax of considerable excitement on the streets of Dublin just before this incident caused by the ex-convict passing through this small town in his desperate attempt at escape.
Driven to bay by bloodhounds, W.T. Haley, Jr., the 25-year old desperado surrendered, after leaving in his wake a day of crime that included kidnapping and murder of a police officer.
Lodged in county jail in Brownwood Friday night. Haley, badly wounded, was charged with that murder of Officer W. C. Fuston, who had early Friday morning gone to a Brownwood tourist camp to question the fugitive and his woman companion. Haley, an ex-convict and Palo Pinto jail breaker, opened fire when officers came to the door. Haley’s companion was thought to be his wife.
A.P. Sprinkle, Brownwood city alderman, and Policeman Fred White, who accompanied Fuston on the investigation, returned Haley’s fire as the desperado ran from the cottage. Their shots took effect, and the fugitive was prevented from reaching his nearby auto to escape, although he was lost on foot in the darkness.
About 7:15 a.m. Haley stumbled to an auto occupied by Charles A. Watkins, 22, a gravel pit worker. Holding his automatic on Watson, the wounded man forced Watkins to drive him toward Dublin.
Meanwhile, word of the shooting had spread. A posse was hastily formed of about 50 Brownwood and Brown County officers, augmented by Rangers and state Highway Patrolmen. He was traced to where he later surrendered to Vince Jordon, the Dublin farmer and posse member.
Haley was returned to Brownwood and placed in the Brown County Jail. He later died in a Brownwood Hospital, after attempting suicide four times, the last being successful. He had acquired a wire to fashion a noose.
Patrolman Fuston’s information at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Officer Rank: Patrolman
Memorial Panel: 25-W: 23
Department: Brownwood, Texas, P.D.
End of Watch: February 3, 1939
Years of Service: 5
Description: Patrolman Fuston was shot four times by a suspected prison escapee and died an hour later at the local hospital. Law enforcement officers captured his assailant.
Officer Fuston was laid to rest at Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Texas. He had no children, and his widow lives at 605 E. Lee as listed in the 1939 city directory.
Sources: Various period newspapers and photo from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
This and many other stories are available at the Brownwood Public Library – Genealogy & Local History Branch at 213 S. Broadway.
Volunteers from the Pecan Valley Genealogical Society are there to assist you in your family history research.
Clay Riley is a local historian and retired Aerospace Engineer that has been involved in the Historical and Genealogical Community of Brown County for over 20 years.
Should you have a comment, or a question that he may be able to answer in future columns, he can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org.