Article published May 21, 1937
Prisoner Shot as Jailer And Trusty Nip Escape Attempt at County Jail
James Crawley is Reported in "Fair" Condition at Hospital
The condition of James Crawley, 23, of Greer, who was seriously wounded in a reported attempt to escape from the Spartanburg county jail early yesterday morning, was reported "fair" last night at General hospital.
Crawley was shot twice when he was reported to have assaulted Rural Officer W.W. McKinney, on duty as night jailer, with a make shift blackjack when the officer entered the cellblock.
Crawley Shot TwiceAttaches at the hospital said Crawley was shot once in the left chest, the bullet ranging upward through the left armpit, and in the right leg. The bone in Crawley's leg was shattered by one bullet, hospital attaches said.
Courageous work on the part of Officer McKinney and a trusty who accompanied him to Crawley's cellblock frustrated the jail break plot, according to accounts of the incident given by county officers.
Officer McKinney suffered facial injuries and a torn uniform in a scuffle with Crawley, but reported for duty as usual last night.
Sheriff reports "Tip Off"Sheriff Sam M. Henry and fellow officers said that the jailer had been "tipped off" several days ago that several prisoners were plotting to overpower the officer on duty and escape. The sheriff investigated and then ordered that the six or eight men reported to be involved in the plot, be separated and shifted to other cells.
"This was done and we hoped it would break up the plot and end the trouble," the sheriff said. He said information regarding the plot came to him last week and that the men were shifted immediately.
Crawley ComplainedShortly after 1 a.m., yesterday, Officer McKinney told the sheriff that Crawley complained about a condition in his cell. County officers said they knew that no such condition existed, but Officer McKinney, accompanied by a trusty, decided to go to the cell and make an investigation. Sheriff Henry said that Officer McKinney, with the trusty close behind him, went to Crawley's cell and unlocked the corridor door. At this moment, without warning, officers said Crawley struck Officer McKinney quickly several times with an improvised weapon fashioned from a sprinkler unscrewed from a shower bath, packed with soap and tied up in a cloth, in sandbag form. Officer McKinney wears spectacles and these were knocked off broken and his face bruised by the blows, officers said.
Scuffle FollowsOfficers said a scuffle between McKinney and Crawley ensued and as the officer grappled, Crawley seized the officers .38 caliber pistol from its holster and attempted to throw it to the other prisoners in the cell. Officers said they were informed that a part of the plot was for the officer's gun to be taken during a scuffle and thrown to others in the cell, and that the gun was to have been used in overpowering the officer.
Officers said Crawley grabbed two heavy locks, unfastened and hanging on the cell door box, and was using them in an attempt to beat down the officer who already had been dazed by blows from the improvised sprinkler and soap club, but was still grappling with the prisoner.
The trusty, officers said, was close behind the officer and quickly grabbed the gun. Crawley was shot three times and fell on the floor near the cell door, the officers reported.
McKinney Calls SheriffDespite his dazed condition, Officer McKinney hurried to the telephone and called Sheriff Henry whose living quarters are adjacent to the jail. Sheriff Henry came quickly and called a physician and an ambulance. He also called Deputy B.B. Brockman who hurried to the jail and assisted in details of the investigation.
Officers said that Crawley talked to them and to the physician after being shot.
Sheriff Henry said that a full investigation of the affair is under way and that charges would be preferred against all prisoners who were found to have had any part in the plot or the attempted break.
Praise TrustyOfficers were warm in their praise of the trusty whose name was not divulged, pending further developments in the investigation.
Sheriff Henry hurried to the jail and at once went into the investigation after talking with the wounded man as he lay on the floor. An extensive investigation was made at once last week when they were first informed of plans to stage a break, and this led to the men allegedly involved being separated and placed in other cells.
Crawley was convicted several days ago in county criminal court of housebreaking and larceny and was sentenced to serve one year.