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Luther Opry, elected Wagoner County's first Sheriff in 1907, was gunned down at Main and Casaver a few years after he left office. Opry had been defeated and became the manager of the luxurious Axtel Hotel on Wagoner's South Main Street. According to newspaper accounts, Opry,was walking back to the hotel after having eaten lunch with local attorney John Graves on Sunday, Nov.3,1912. As he and Graves approached the Main and Casaver intersection, they were approached by Eugene Flowers. Flowers had served as a deputy with Opry and was under the Sheriff at the time.
Flowers walked toward them from the county jail, Which was then on the alley about a half block north of the street. He was mad at Opry and confronted the sheriff about rumors that had been circulating about town. "Luther, why are you mixing me up with the sale of Whiskey from the county jail when you know it was Jim Long that was in jail that night and not me?" Graves quoted Flowers as having said. The story, as told by Graves in an account written for the next day's edition of the Wagoner County Record, was that Opry answered Flowers with something to the effect that he, Flowers, was "the chief bootlegger.
"You know this is a fact: you know that you have been selling the whiskey that you have seized," Opry was quoted as having said to Flowers. Graves said the two continued arguing for about a minute and a half, with Opry "roundly cursing" Flowers for his part in these matters. They had began to discuss a $30 claim Opry said was his but which Flowers had filed with the county commissioners and collected. Opry continued cursing Flowers and Flowers answered back something that Graves could not hear. Then, he saw Opry respond to something Flowers said by striking Flowers "a short arm blow on the left cheek," Graves reported.
Graves' story continued: Opry was standing in his original position, his hands at his sides, when Flowers "very deliberately drew an automatic revolver from his pocket, cocked it, took deliberate aim and fired at Opry." Without a pause, Flowers fired four or five more shots."All the shots hit Opry and he dropped to the sidewalk."And as he pitched forward on the sidewalk and lay still, Flowers deliberately fired two or three shots, two to the best of my recollection, into the body of the dying man." Opry's young daughters were among the first to arrive on the scene. "Both fell screaming upon the corpse of the dead man," Graves recounted the scene.
Flowers went on to become Broken Arrow's chief of police, a position he held for more than a quarter century. His brother, Clay Flowers, to this day, is one of the most respected county sheriffs and police chiefs in the area's history.
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18 Oct 2008
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