Memorial to Hubert W. Estes

End of Watch: May 16, 1947
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Age: 51
Years of Service: 25 years
Location of Death: 6th and P Streets, NW

 

Circumstance:

A man, armed with a handgun entered the court building and shot two civilians when he became enraged over a $125.00 refund. After the shooting, the gunman fled down the street. Officer Estes and an unarmed guard from the courthouse confronted the suspect in an alley and attempted to place him under arrest. The suspect pointed a gun at Officer Estes and the guard. A fight ensued as they tried to wrestle the gun away from him. As they were fighting, the suspect shot the guard in the mouth and Officer Estes twice in the chest. As Officer Estes was dying, he drew his weapon and shot the suspect four times.

Biography

Officer Estes was 51 years of age. He was appointed to the MPD on June 1, 1922. He was assigned to the old First Precinct. He was married and had at least one son who later joined the department and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief of Police.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 17, 1947, PAGE 1
(THE 1947 SHOOTING RAMPAGE IN D.C. MUNICIPAL COURT THAT CULMINATED IN THE DEATH OF OFFICER HUBERT W. ESTES)
Disbarred Lawyer Kills Policeman, Bar Clerk

Slayer Shot Four Times by Officer As Gunplay Ranges From Court to F St.
A would-be District lawyer from Mississippi yesterday killed two men, wounded two more and was himself shot down in a midtown rampage that started on the third floor of the Municipal Court.

The wild-west carnage by gun-toting Daniel Williams, 40, a disbarred attorney from Jackson, Miss., started when he was refused immediate return of $75.00, he paid for admission to the District Bar.

The dead are:
Pvt. Hubert W. Estes, 51, of the Metropolitan police, and “mayor of Ninth Street.” He died at 6th and F, with two bullets through his right chest while trying to disarm Williams with a blackjack.

Ray E. Devendorf, 65, 201 Second St. NE, a clerk in the office of the Bar Association’s Committee on Admissions and Grievances. He was shot fatally through the right eye at the committee’s third floor office in Municipal court.

Prominent Lawyer Shot
The wounded are:
Cecil A. Craig, 43, 1337 28th St. se, a civil guard at the court, who captured Williams at 6th and F Sts, after being shot through the right jaw. His condition is not serious.

Craig was taken to Marine Hospital, Baltimore, for specialist treatment.
George W. Dalzell, 69, 8 Hesketh St., Chevy Chase, Md., prominent attorney here and secretary of the committee. He was shot through the left chin, neck and shoulders in the Municipal Court office. His condition is serious but “satisfactory,” physicians at Emergency Hospital said last night.

Followed by Guard
Here is the story as pieced together from various police and eyewitness sources:

The shooting started after Williams demanded the return of $75, part of a $125 fee he had deposited for his application for admittance to the District Bar.

When he was told that he could not have the money just then, he pulled out his gun and shot Dalzell and Devendorf. Reloading his revolver, he promptly left the court building, heading west on F St.

He walked briskly to 613 F St. NW, followed by Craig, the building guard. After stopping briefly at that address, he turned to run into Claig. Estes, who was also following him from the court, was right behind.

Admits Shootings
Then the second round of shooting started. He first shot Claig through the jaw and then turned around to wound Estes mortally in the right chest. Craig grappled with Williams, finally clubbing him into unconsciousness with William’s own gun.

The injured and dead were rushed to Emergency Hospital. Williams later was transferred under guard to Gallinger, while Claig was transferred first to Providence Hospital and then to the Marine Hospital in Baltimore.

Williams used an unregistered 38 caliber Iver-Johnson revolver which he said he had inherited from an uncle.
Williams admitted the shootings in an oral statement to police. Williams, who had a room at 1827 S St. NW., came here about two months ago and filed an application for admission to the District Bar. He paid the required fee of $125 and his application was sent to the Conference of Bar Examiners, Denver Colo., for investigation. They discovered he had been disbarred in Mississippi in connection with a divorce case.

Had Asked Refund
Walter C. Clephane, chairman of the local bar committee, said Williams came to the Municipal Court office Wednesday and asked that the application be withdrawn and that the $125 be refunded. Both requests were refused, Clephane said.

“We wanted a complete file and part of the money went for the investigation,” Clephane explained. Williams application was sponsored by Perry W. Howard, attorney with an office at 813 F St. NW. Williams went to Perry’s office just before the second shooting spree. Howard, Republican committeeman from Mississippi, was at District Court as a defense attorney in the Garason trial at the time. Afterwards, Howard said he did not know of the disbarment proceedings in Mississippi when he sponsored the application.

According to police, Williams returned to the court office at 10:30 a.m. yesterday and demanded that $75 of the deposit be returned. The initial fee for a bar investigation is $50.

Bar Head’s Story
Austin Canfield, president of the District Bar, said Dalzell told him at the hospital that Williams became angry when informed his application was rejected because of his disbarment.

“What in hell’s Mississippi got to do with the District of Columbia,” the gunman reportedly demanded.

The picture as pieced together by Canfield:

Williams pulled out a 38 caliber Iver-Johnson revolver and shot Dalzell, Devendorf, standing at the file cabinet, saw the gun and yelled “Watch out.” Williams turned and shot Devendorf.

Williams then walked calmly to the corridor and toward the elevator, Canfield reported.

Reloaded, Says Messenger
George Clemmons, a messenger who lives at 1206 T St. NW., was seated near the elevator. He said: “I saw the man walk toward me holding the gun. He reached the elevator and pressed the button to go down. Just then Mr. Dalzell came to the door of his office. There was blood all over his shirt and he looked sick. The man with the gun took some bullets out of his coat pocket, reloaded the gun slowly and then fired three or four times at Mr. Dalzell, who fell down.”

Sedgwick Pearson of Merrifield, Va., the elevator operator, brought his car to the third floor without having heard of the shooting. “He got into my elevator quietly and when I stopped at the second floor, he dashed out. I yelled to him that it wasn’t the ground floor, and he came back in, pulled his gun out and swore at me. When we got to the ground floor, he ran to the F street entrance (about halfway to the other end of the building) and disappeared.”

Meanwhile, Claig, the guard, was called by the court clerk. “Williams got off the elevator when I got on,” said Claig at Providence Hospital later. “I didn’t know him, of course.”

Claig said he received orders from the clerk to follow the gunman while a call was made for Metropolitan Police.
Claig said he followed Williams at a fast walk to 6th and F Sts., about two blocks from the courthouse, saw him speak to Mrs. Mary B. Crawford, 4405 E St. SE., in front of Howard’s office. When informed Howard was not at the office (613 F St. NW.), Williams turned and walked back toward 5th St., Claig said.

“I kept following him and when I was about 30 or 40 feet away, he turned around, pulled the gun and asked why I was following,” Claig said. “He didn’t sound like he was going to shoot. So, I just stalled him along. There wasn’t anything I could do.”

“Persuader” Fails

A crew of workmen installing glass at the store at 601 F St., watched aghast on their scaffolds.
Policeman Estes, who had been on liaison duty at the Criminal Courts Building, volunteered to catch Williams, police said. He commandeered a truck. He got out at 6th and F Sts., walked up behind Williams and swatted at William’s gun arm with a “persuader” (special type blackjack). Williams moved just then, and the blackjack glanced off his gun arm, witnesses related.

“Then,” said Claig, “Williams shot me and turned and began shooting at Estes who was just drawing his gun. I fell. Then I got up and tackled Williams from behind. Estes had kept right on shooting even after he was hit. He was still shooting when he was on the ground.

“I tackled Williams and got his gun. Then I began clubbing him until some policemen arrived.”

Williams Shot Four Times
Williams had four wounds, Estes, although mortally wounded, had drawn his own gun and shot Williams through the right hand, right shoulder, right chest and a glancing shot in the forehead. Physicians at Gallinger said Williams wounds were “critical” but said they expected him to survive.

Detective Sergeant Walter Perry said Williams told him en route to the hospital he shot Dalzell because he “wanted to get the money back.”

When asked why he shot the others, he said he didn’t know. As for Policeman Estes, Williams said he shot him “because the policeman shot at me.” Williams maintained a tight silence at the hospital.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MAY 20, 1947, PAGE 1

Slain D.C. Policeman Covers His Beat for the Last Time
Police Pvt. Hubert W. Estes, shot to death by a disbarred lawyer, covered his 9th St. NW, beat for the last time yesterday.
Twenty-five motorcycle police, color guard and an honor guard of some 200 other policemen accompanied him. It was his funeral procession and in special tribute it went over the route he had patrolled during most of his 21 years on the District force.

Some three hours later, at 2 pm, rites for Ray E. Devendorf, clerk in the office of the Municipal Court’s Committee on Admissions and Grievances, also slain by Dan Williams last Friday, were held at the S.H. Hines Co. Funeral home.

The Rev. Robert J. Plumb, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 3rd and A Sts se, officiated at Mr. Devendorf’s services. His son, Douglas P. Devendorf of Mayville, Ill., and his sister, Miss Grace Devendorf of 212 Whitestone pl., Silver Spring, Md., were among the 50 at the rites.

Services for Devendorf were followed by a private cremation service at the Fort Lincoln Crematorium.
The 200 uniformed men who formed a guard of honor for Private Estes body included members of the Park and Capitol Police forces, the Police Academy and the Police Training School. They were headed by Acting Police Superintendent Walter H. Thomas.

In the brief service at Hysong’s funeral home, the Rev. Elmer Lucus of the Union Baptist Church in Arlington, Va., cited a similarity between his own duty as a clergyman and that of a policeman. Both, he said, tried to save lives and protect citizens, but Private Estes was killed in the line of duty, he added.

Among the 150 civilians who attended the services were the patrolman’s widow, Mrs. Elizabeth R. Estes, 2718 N. Lorcum Ln., Arlington, whose father, Detective Sergt. Robert Sanders once headed the police narcotics bureau, his four children, three sisters and four brothers.

Six privates from No. 1 Precinct were the pallbearers: M.I. Bridges, A.P. Scherl, R. L. Jenkins, C. K. Daub, N.S. Jones and M.L. Legate. The color guard consisted of Pvts. Frank P. Behnke, No. 12; William O’Connor, No. 7; Oliver T. Coffin, No 5; and Paul F. Moran, No 4.
The honor guard included, besides Superintendent Thomas, Inspectors Milton D. Smith, Oscar J. Letterman, Arthur E. Miller and Ira E. Keck. Another member was Lieut. David McCutcheon, who in 1926 “broke in” in Pvt. Estes on his beat.
Passing the No 1 Precinct Station at 413 New Jersey Ave. NW., the funeral cortege was saluted by some 50 police there, and by firemen of the No 1 Engine and No 3 Truck Companies, whose station is next door. The procession continued to Cedar Hills Cemetery where burial took place.

Meanwhile, Williams two other victims, who were shot but not fatally, in the affray which began at the Municipal Court and ended at 6th and F Sts., were both reported in good condition last night and improved since Sunday, as was Williams himself at Gallinger Hospital.

George W. Dalzell, secretary of the committee on admissions and grievances, first one to be shot, was “getting along just fine,” according to authorities at Emergency Hospital. Cecil A. Claig, civil guard at the court, who finally captured Williams was “doing well” at the Marine Hospital in Baltimore.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1947, PAGE B1
Jury Finds Williams of Unsound Mind
A District Court jury yesterday found Dan Williams Jr., 40, charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding two others at Municipal Court last May, to be of unsound mind.

The panel of 10 men and 2 women deliberated only 35 minutes before returning its verdict. At Williams request, each juror was polled. The verdict was unanimous. Williams will be committed to an asylum.
After hearing testimony of several psychiatrists from St. Elizabeth’s and Gallinger Hospitals. Williams, a disbarred lawyer from Mississippi, took the stand to declare that the story of the slaying’s was a conspiracy against him and that they had never actually occurred. He stated that he had seen one of the men he supposedly killed, later walking around Gallinger Hospital.

The psychiatrists, who included Dr. William Cushard, Dr. Edgar E. Griffin, and Dr. Joseph Gilbert, stated that Williams is suffering from a mental disorder involving s persecution complex and illusions of grandeur.

Williams was indicted for the fatal shooting of Ray Devendorf, 65, a clerk in the office of Courts Committee on Admissions and Grievances, and Police Pvt. Hubert W. Estes, 51. He was also charged with wounding George W. Dalzell, 69, of 8 Hesketh St., Chevy Chase., Md, secretary of the committee, and Cecil A. Claig, 43, of 1337 28th St. SE, a civil guard.