Skip to Content

U.S. Marshals Service

History - The U.S. Marshals and Court Security

Protection of Federal Judges

In the Matter of David Neagle

Act II

Terry reached inside his coat while Deputy Neagle drew his pistol and fired twice.

Scene I: "I Am an Officer!"

When Sarah Terry saw Justice Field sitting down to breakfast, she immediately ran back to the train to retrieve her purse, in which she carried her gun. David Terry came up behind the Justice and slapped him twice in the face. Deputy Neagle jumped up, yelling, "Stop that! I am an officer." Terry reached inside his coat while Deputy Neagle drew his pistol and fired twice. David Terry fell dead, killed instantly by a bullet to his heart.

Telegram to Attorney General William Miller.

Scene II: Aftermath of the Gunfight

Immediately after Marshal Franks heard of the gunfight, he sent the telegram pictured above to Attorney General William Miller. Meanwhile, Sarah swore out an arrest warrant against both Deputy Neagle and Justice Field for the murder of her husband.  Both were arrested by Sheriff Thomas Cunningham of the County of San Joaquin.  Deputy Neagle was taken to jail, but Justice Field was released on his own recognizance. The charges against Field were later dropped.

Scene III: Deputy in Jail

Depiction of Neagle in jailDeputy Neagle spent several days in the San Joaquin County jail. The pictured is a contemporary newspaper drawing showing him in his cell receiving friends. While he waited, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco appealed to the circuit court for a writ of habeus corpus to release Neagle.



Continued:  Page One | Two | Three | Four | Five

See also related article on Protection of Judges is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justicee