Days after murder of Medgar Evers , NYT recounted ordeal

New York TimesJune 11, 2013 

On June 13, 1963, reporter Claude Sitton wrote a story for The New York Times about the slaying of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Miss.

Here are excerpts from that story:

A sniper lying in ambush shot and fatally wounded a Negro civil rights leader early today.

The slaying touched off mass protests by Negroes in which 158 were arrested. It also aroused widespread fear of further racial violence in this state capital.

The victim of the shooting was Medgar W. Evers, 37-year-old Mississippi field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Struck in the back by a bullet from a high-powered rifle as he walked from his automobile to his home, he died less than an hour later – at 1:14 A.M. (3:14 A.M. New York time) – in University Hospital.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined Jackson, Hinds County and state authorities in the search for the killer.

A 51-year-old white man was picked up, questioned for several hours and released. Investigators discovered a .30-06-caliber rifle with a newly attached telescopic sight in a vacant lot near the honeysuckle thicket from which they believed the fatal shot had been fired. ...

Mr. Evers, a native of Decatur, Miss., and an Army veteran of World War II, had been one of the key leaders in the Negroes’ drive here to win a promise from the city to hire some Negro policemen and to appoint a biracial committee.

He left a mass meeting at a church last night, stopped at the residence of a Negro lawyer and then drove to his home on the city’s northern edge. Before leaving the church, he remarked to a newsman that “tomorrow will be a big day.”

He arrived at his neat, green-paneled and buff-brick ranch-style home on Guynes Street shortly after midnight. The accounts of the authorities, his wife and neighbors showed that the following series of events had taken place:

He parked his 1962 light blue sedan in the driveway, behind his wife’s station wagon.

As he turned to walk into a side entrance opening into a carport, the sniper’s bullet struck him just below the right shoulder blade.

The slug crashed through a front window of the home, penetrated an interior wall, ricocheted off a refrigerator and struck a coffee pot. The battered bullet was found beneath a watermelon on a kitchen cabinet.

Mr. Evers staggered to the doorway, his keys in his hand, and collapsed near the steps. His wife, Myrlie, and three children rushed to the door.

The screaming of the children, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” awoke a neighbor, Thomas A. Young. Another neighbor, Houston Wells, said he had heard the shot and the screams of Mrs. Evers.

Mr. Wells, according to the police, said he had looked out a bedroom window, saw Mr. Evers’s crumpled body in the carport and had rushed out into his yard. He said he had crouched behind a clump of shrubbery, fired a shot into the air and shouted for help.

The police, who arrived a short time later, helped neighbors place Mr. Evers in Mr. Wells’s station wagon.

As the station wagon sped to University Hospital, those who accompanied the dying man said he had murmured weakly, “Sit me up,” and “Turn me loose.”

Dr. A.B. Britton, Mr. Evers’s physician, a member of the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the Federal Civil Rights Commission, rushed to the hospital. He indicated that the victim had died from loss of blood and internal injuries.

Mr. Evers expressed a premonition several weeks ago that he might be shot, according to Dr. Britton. The physician said he and other friends believed that they should have taken steps then to protect him.

City detectives making the investigation found a nearly cleared space in the honeysuckle thicket some 200 feet southwest of Mr. Evers’s home. The speculated the killer had hidden there while awaiting the arrival of his victim.

Lights in the carport, according to investigators, silhouetted Mr. Evers’s body and enabled the sniper to see through the telescopic sight.

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