GA Man Wounds 20+, Kills 5+ With Double Barreled Shotgun, Is Taken Out by Citizen Armed With Handgun

June 17 2014
by GSL Staff
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OK, so I’ve got your attention? That headline, while completely accurate, is from nearly 100 years ago. I’m writing up this old school defensive gun use to illustrate a few different points. First off, I want to point out that mass murder is not a new phenomenon that started when the AR-15 was introduced to the civilian market. Secondly, I want to point out that good guys with guns have always been the best way to stop bad guys with guns. Third, I want to highlight that mass shooting predate the common ownership of semi-automatic firearms. Fourth, it seems that the media has always been a bit off in their coverage of firearms.

Various media accounts have the number of wounded ranging from 20-32 and the number of deaths from 5-7. We thank a diligent reader for bringing it to our attention. It’s always important to look back at history when talking about the present.

On March 6, 1915, a man by the name of Monroe Phillips, who was apparently a well established businessman in Brunswick, GA, went on a killing spree after losing a significant amount of money in a business deal.

The New York Times ran the story on March 7, 1915. You can download the entire article in PDF format from the New York Times archives by clicking this link. According to that article ,

Angered by losses in a real estate deal, Monroe Phillips, a lead business man, ran amuck today with an automatic shotgun and killed five men and wounded twenty others before he himself was killed. Phillips was shot dead by E.C. Butts, a lawyer, while he was trying to fire upon citizens who appeared in the street.

First off, I’d like to point out that the gun used was a double barreled shotgun (as mentioned later in the article), but the NYT still referred to it as an “automatic shotgun”. I guess some things never change. Here is more from the article,

Shortly before noon Phillips, carrying a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the offices of Mr. Dunwoody [the business associate who apparently caused Phillips to lose a substantial amount of money]. He fired both barrels into the attorney’s head. The slayer then walked downstairs to the street, where several citizens, attracted by the shots, had gathered. Phillips fired into the crowd, killing L.C. Padgett. He then began shooting into a crowd of men who had collected on the opposite side of the street, wounding several and killing Georgie W. Asbell.

People began running to shelter. Phillips reloaded his gun as he walked to the corner of Newcastle and Gloucester Streets and took up his station in front of a drug store, where he began shooting at every person who appeared on the street. Several persons standing blocks away were struck by stray shots. William H. Hackett was killed as he stepped from a building into the street.

Presently Policeman Deaver came running up to the scene and began shooting at Phillips, who turned his gun upon the officer and shot him dead. A bullet from the policeman’s revolver, however, wounded Phillips.

Enter the armed citizen. This may be one of the first documented defensive gun uses of an armed citizen stopping a mass murder in American history. Despite being shot and despite not having a gun at the start of the encounter, E.C. Butts did what needed to be done. Also according to the NY Times archive,

Mr. Butts, who had been struck by a shot from Phillip’s gun, rushed to a hardware store and obtained a pistol. He began firing at the crazed timber dealer. A bullet from the lawyer’s pistol finally struck Phillips and he fell to the sidewalk, dying within a few minutes.

Interestingly, even though the paper got some facts about the gun wrong, they didn’t jump up to blame the firearm. In those days, the suspect was blamed for his crimes. Also from the article,

Phillips is thought to have become insane because of financial reverses.

Look at that, blaming something other than the gun.

I hope this writeup shows that mass murder is nothing new that is limited to our generation, is not dependent on semi-auto firearms, and, most importantly, just as it was 100 years ago, the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

I’m not going to include this story in our documented defensive gun use database because the goal of that database is to track defensive gun uses from a certain point in time.

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