The Shooting of Joe Bowers
Guards' Memorandums and Surgeon's Report

Chandler Wilkinson Morrison Steere Starr Archer Autopsy

E.F. Chandler's Memorandum to James A. Johnston
Dated April 27, 1936


While on duty in the Road Tower at about 11:00 o'clock A.M. I suddenly looked to see Bowers 210-Az on the top of wire fence attempting to go over, then I yelled at him several times to get down but he ignored my warning and continued to go over. I fired two shots low and waited a few seconds to see the results. He starded down the far side of the fence and I fired one more shot, aiming at his legs. Bowers was hanging on the fence with his hands but his feet were pointing down toward the cement ledge. After my third shot I called the Armory and reported the matter. When I returned from 'phoning the body dropped into the bay.

C.H. Wilkinson's Report to Deputy Warden C.J. Shuttleworth
Dated April 27, 1936

This morning at about 10:55 A.M., as I was driving my truck by the Road Tower, I looked up and saw Mr. Chandler aiming his rifle at something. Upon looking down at the incinerator, I saw inmate #210-Az on top of the fence back of the incinerator. He had his back turned to me and had one leg over the top.

As I watched Mr. Chandler fired and I could tell he had hit #210 who fell on the outside of the fence, falling out of my sight.

I then drove on down the road until I could see the water and there I saw #210 in the water at the foot of the incinerator slide.

I then drove to the dock and reported to the Lieutenant.

Neil W. Morrison's Report to Deputy Warden C.J. Shuttleworth
Dated April 27, 1936

Sometime between 10:45 and 11 A.M. this morning, I heard two shots fairly close together. I ran out to the fence at the corner of Building #32. I could see Mr. Chandler pointing his rifle toward the incinerator and then I saw Register #210, bare-footed, with his pants rolled up, climbing up the fence with his back and part of his right side towards me.

I ran along the fence toward the incinerator in hopes I could get there in time to stop him if he got stuck on his way over. There was one more shot before I got to the rock crusher. The fence shut off my view so I could not see what was happening while I was running towards the incinerator.

When I reached there, I saw his body on the rocks through the incinerator grating. Mr. Steere was there so I returned to the shop area.

Joe B. Steere's Report to Deputy Warden C.J. Shuttleworth
Dated April 27, 1936

About 11:00 A.M., yesterday, I was in the industries area between the Mat Factory and Blacksmith Shop, and I heard a shot fired apparently from the Road Tower.

I ran to the corner of the building and looked at the tower and saw Mr. Chandler raise his rifle for another shot. I looked in the direction he was aiming, expecting to see a boat, but saw Number 210 with his back to me going over the fence in back of the incinerator. Mr. Chandler fired and I started to run towards the incinerator. When Mr. Chandler fired a third shot, I was between the Renovating Plant and the Rock Crusher. I looked at Number 210 then and could see only his head due to the fact I was running parallel to the fence at this point and Number 210 was around a bend in the offset where the incinerator is located. He then disappeared from my sight.

When I reached the incinerator and looked down through the bars over the concrete chute, I could see him laying on his back on the rocks just at the edge of the water. The Deputy Warden was in the Road Tower and instructed me to attempt to reach the body by going over the side of the cliff.

I then went through the gate and down the lower road and dropped down from the retaining wall to the rocks of the cliff, and tried to go down the face of the cliff, but I was unable to proceed very far. I remained here until the trucks arrived with slings and ropes. Then I assisted Mr. Curry who went down on a rope and secured the body until the Launch "McDowell" arrived.

Earl C. Starr's Report to Deputy Warden C.J. Shuttleworth
Dated April 27, 1936

At about 10:55 A.M., this date, I was in the Hill Tower, with Mr. Archer, when I heard two shots. I looked around and saw convict #210 (Joe Bowers) outside of the fence in the rear and a little to the west of the incinerator. He appeared to me to be on the cement abuttment.

I immediately took up my rifle and started down the catwalk toward the yard wall. When I was about half the length of the catwalk, I heard another shot and I glanced up and saw Joe Bowers with one arm on the top of the fence. His feet were pointed down toward the water on the outside of the fence. When I reached #2 Pill Box, on the yard wall, Bowers had already fallen into the bay. I did not see him fall.

A.R. Archer's Report to Deputy Warden C.J. Shuttleworth
Dated April 27, 1936

About 10:50 A.M. this date, in company with Mr. Starr in my tower, I heard two shots fired.

Running to the door, I saw Prisoner 210, Joseph Bowers, standing on the ledge outside the fence by the incinerator.

Mr. Chandler was standing outside the Road Tower on the edge of the platform nearest the incinerator, rifle in hand.

As I watched, #210 started climbing the fence, apparently trying to get back inside the yard.

He succeeded in getting an arm and one leg over the topmost strands of barbed wire when a third shot sounded. His body stiffened and hung there for a few seconds, when he fell backwards out of my sight, over the cliff.

Read the Surgeon's Report