October 7, 2014

Remembering Deputy Frank Adams, killed in the line of duty

 Today is the anniversary of the death of Deputy Frank Adams,  killed in the line of duty 113 years ago on October 7th, 1901.  Deputy Frank Adams was the first of seven Sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty in Monroe County.

Deputy Adams was shot and killed while making an arrest. Two drunken men started fighting near Jackson Square in Key West. They separated and one of the men began to use profane language as he walked up Thomas Street. Deputy Adams, who was sitting near the corner of Southard and Thomas Streets, arrested the man and attempted to take him to jail, but the man resisted and Deputy Adams called out for assistance.

Two men named Fleming and Gabriel took hold of the man to assist Adams. The suspect’s brother pushed some bystanders aside and said that he would not allow them to take his brother to jail. Deputy Adams released the first man he had arrested and grabbed the brother. They began to struggle, and a pistol shot rang out. When the first shot rang out all the bystanders with the exception of one, a mate on the steamer Laurel, ran away; the two men holding the arrested man let him go and fled also.

Adams was shot in the arm, and fell to the ground, with the man who shot him falling on top of him. Adams was shot several more times. One bullet hit him in the left chest, penetrating his heart and another wounded him in the face. After shooting Adams, the shooter got up and ran down Southard Street toward what was then the Government Reservation.

A large crowd soon gathered around the body of Deputy Adams and the mate from the Laurel - the only one to stay at the scene. The mate told the crowd how the murder had happened. Deputy Adam’s body was taken home.

The following day the shooter, Robert J. Frank, was caught and identified by the mate from the Laurel as the person who shot and killed Adams. He was arrested for murdering the deputy. At the preliminary hearing Robert Frank admitted to the shooting and said that he was sorry for it. He said, however, that he would have shot anyone who tried to arrest him.

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