Officer Wilson Pringle

In Memoriam, Lawrence Police Officer Wilson Pringle

 

On Saturday, October, 16, 1909, Officer Wilson Pringle became the second Lawrence Police Officer to die in the line of duty.  Officer Pringle had been shot in the neck, earlier that week by Earl Ross Bullock a 17 year old wanted for suspicion of several burglaries and an armed robbery of the State Bank of Eudora. 

T.W. Pringle GravestoneAfter shooting Officer Pringle, Bullock escaped and engaged in a several week train excursion as far

south as Jacksonville, Florida, and returned to Eudora only to hold up the same Eudora bank on November 12.  After that robbery, an angry group of Eudora residents and farmers were able to corner Bullock and an accomplice near the Kansas River where Bullock shot himself in the head and later died.

The events that lead up to the shooting of Officer Pringle were well documented in numerous newspaper accounts published in the Lawrence Daily Journal and the Lawrence Daily World.  Sometime in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 9, 1909, the front window of a Massachusetts Street second hand store was broken out and among the items taken were two revolvers.  The Lawrence Police Department received information that Earl Bullock was responsible for the robbery, and acting on a tip regarding his where abouts Officer Pringle went looking for Bullock at a residence in the 1200 block of Haskell Avenue. Having no luck Officer Pringle returned to work and then home for the night. 

Later that evening, the then off-duty Wilson Pringle accompanied by his wife and three grown children were visiting friends next door to the house on Haskell Avenue that Bullock was known to frequent.  It was not long when Officer Pringle saw a taxi pull up next door and Bullock exit the vehicle and walk into the house.  As Pringle went to the back of the house, he heard someone from inside yell, “run.”  Apparently, Officer Pringle saw Bullock make his way back to the front of the house, and as Pringle rounded the corner by the front porch he was met by Bullock who raised a revolver, fired one shot that hit Officer Pringle in the neck, the bullet lodging near his spine.  An account in the current day Douglas County Law Library email Newsletter (dated October 2010) related the events. “Horrified neighbors ran over to the fallen officer.  The taxi driver reported that Bullock stood and looked at the fallen man for nearly half a minute, and then walked over to the cab.  He tossed the driver a dollar, saying, “Here’s your pay cabbie,” and made his unhurried get-away through a nearby pasture.  Officer Pringle was able to talk.  He said, “I thought he was just a kid.  He took a drop on me and fired before I knew what he was about.  He was just a kid.””  Officer Pringle would be taken to a hospital at 805 Ohio, but died later that week.     

The story of the shooting of Officer Pringle and the subsequent search for Bullock and the events leading up to his apparent suicide proved quite interesting at the time as excerpts appeared in numerous local and national news publications including two local newspapers previously mentioned and The New York Times.  

Unfortunately, no photos of Officer Pringle are known to exist.

November 13, 1909 Article
Douglas County Law Library 2010 Legal History Archive