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Shootout in Minot


On this date in 1922, the Ward County Independent reported quite a bit of excitement about a shooting in Minot. A policeman was wounded and the shooter was killed.

Mrs. L.G. Middleton, age 19, and her sister Nellie Sprague, age 21, had gone to a traveling carnival. There they met carnival workers Arthur Poole and Jesse Gibson. Mr. Middleton, described as hardworking and well-respected, complained to the police that his wife had taken up with one of the carneys and had been away from home for several nights.

On June 23rd, police learned that Mrs. Middleton had gone to the West Hotel with Poole. There they registered as man and wife, as did Sprague and Gibson. Three officers were sent to the hotel at four o’clock in the morning. Two of them watched the stairs as officer J. Sharrar knocked on the door of the room occupied by Poole and Middleton. He called out, identifying himself as a police officer. Poole got out of bed, put on his pants, and grabbed his gun. Sharrar reported that he could hear Poole loading the gun, and he heard Mrs. Middleton cry out, “Don’t shoot, honey!” But Poole opened the door and started shooting. Two bullets hit the officer in the legs, but he fired back. The first bullet missed Poole and hit the door jamb. But the second hit Poole in the head, and the man fell to the floor. He died almost immediately.

Mrs. Middleton, Sprague, and Gibson were arrested for indecency and lewd behavior. Gibson said he had warned his friend about “stepping out” with a married woman. Poole had carried a gun because he was afraid that the angry husband would shoot him if given the chance.

The coroner’s inquest was held two days later. A large crowd turned out to observe, and many people were turned away. The inquest quickly came to the conclusion that Poole was killed in a case of self-defense.

Poole’s body was to be shipped to his family in Ohio. We find no report of the consequences for lewd and indecent behavior by Mrs. Middleton, Gibson, and Sprague.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Ward County Independent. “Carnival Attache Killed by Policeman.” 29 June, 1922.