William Reynolds was an American mass murderer who shot nine people, seven of them fatally, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States on April 6, 1902, before being shot dead himself.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Will Reynolds
William Reynolds

ca. 1867
DiedApril 6, 1902(1902-04-06) (aged 34–35)
Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States
Cause of deathKilled in shootout
DateApril 6, 1902
Location(s)Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States
Weapons.45-caliber sixteen-shot Winchester rifle

Police arrived at Reynolds' home in Tuscumbia's black neighborhood to arrest him on a charge of obtaining property under false pretenses. According to the Richmond Planet, Reynolds opened fire immediately on the sheriff and deputy who came to the door, killing both. He barricaded himself in the house and a posse was assembled. In the ensuing gun battle, Reynolds killed seven more white men.[8] After four hours, the posse set fire to the house in which he was barricaded and, in attempting to escape, Reynolds was shot to death.[9] A total of three houses were burned down.[8]

With the sheriff and five deputies of the Colbert County Sheriff's Department among those killed, this was the deadliest incident in Alabama law enforcement history.[10]

Racial tensions were high after the incident and, the following day in nearby Florence, Alabama, a prominent white butcher was arrested for killing and butchering a black patron who praised Reynolds.[8][9]


  • Sheriff Charles Gassaway, 33
  • Deputy William Gassaway, brother of Charles Gassaway
  • Deputy Jesse Davis
  • Deputy James Payne
  • Deputy Pat A. Prout
  • Deputy Bob Wallace
  • Hugh Jones

Those wounded were: James Finney and Bob Patterson.[11]

See also



  1. ^ Desperado kills three, The New York Times (April 7, 1902)
  2. ^ Three died from wounds, The New York Times (April 8, 1902)
  3. ^ Three of the Wounded Dead, The Hartford Courant (April 8, 1902)
  4. ^ Negro slays white men, The Racine Journal (April 8, 1902)
  5. ^ Death of late sheriff's wife spurs memory tragedy that rocked south, TimesDaily (July 23, 1958)
  6. ^ 'Colbert's worst tragedy' occurred 70 years ago, TimesDaily (June 24, 1971)
  7. ^ A job well-done, TimesDaily (May 17, 1996)
  8. ^ a b c "Attack on William Reynolds by Tuscumbia sheriff burns two houses". Richmond Planet. 12 April 1902. p. 1. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Desperado Kills Five". The Montgomery Advertiser. 8 April 1902. p. 1. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  10. ^ Deadliest Days in Law Enforcement History, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
  11. ^ Five dead and two dying, The Indianapolis Journal (April 8, 1902)