The man wearing a badge rode into Brown and Kinder’s Livery in Holbrook, Arizona Territory, on a quiet Sunday afternoon in early September 1887. He dismounted and headed for a small white frame house. 

Arizona Lawman

Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens of Apache County planned on serving an arrest warrant on a cattle rustler suspected of several killings. 

Owens wore a wide-brimmed hat to cover his flowing hair, a fringed buckskin jacket, and silver-studded chaps. A four-inch-wide belt strapped around his waist carried two rows of ammunition for his revolver and rifle.

Owens approached the house in the late afternoon, walked to the front door, peeked through a window, and summoned Andy Blevins outside. Blevins also went by the alias Andy Cooper.

Cooper, I want you,” Owens called out.

What do you want with me?”

Owens said he carried an old arrest warrant accusing Blevins of horse stealing.

Owens took office during a period of runaway lawlessness in 1886. Subsequently, he found himself in the middle of the Pleasant Valley War, a conflict involving the Graham and Tewksbury families.

The Blevins clan had allied with the Grahams, a family of cattlemen. 

The sheep-herding Tewksburys were part Indian, prompting historians to suggest the range war might have involved racial prejudice. 

Owens tried to remain neutral but decided to serve the warrant when he learned Andy Blevins/Cooper bragged about killing John Tewksbury and another man.

The door opened just a few inches, and Blevins told Owens he needed time to think. The sheriff denied the request, and Blevins tried to shut the door. 

Owens later told the Apache County Critic newspaper that he wedged the door open with his boot, poked the rifle in, and fired.

The bullet struck Blevins in the stomach.

As Owens backpedaled to load another cartridge, John Blevins, a brother, opened another door and shot. The bullet missed and killed his brother’s horse a few feet away.

The lawman fired back, striking John Blevins in the right shoulder.

Mose Roberts, a family friend, decided to get into the act and charged from the house, six-shooter blazing. Other accounts say he was unarmed and climbed out a window to get away from the gunfight. (The doctor who treated the wounded man testified he found Roberts at the backdoor with a gun nearby).

Owens leaped to the side of a wagon and fired, killing Roberts.

Owens said 15-year-old Sam Houston Blevins “jumped out of the front of the house with a six-shooter in his hands. I shot him.”

The gunfight lasted about a minute. Owens fired only five shots, killing Andy Blevins, Sam Blevins, and Mose Roberts and wounding John Blevins.

Despite his courage and effectiveness, Owens lost his bid for a second term as sheriff and moved to Seligman, Arizona, where he opened a general store and saloon.

After getting married in 1902, the couple relocated to San Diego, California.

Ten years later, Owens and his wife returned to Arizona Territory to help celebrate statehood on February 14, 1912.

Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens died on May 28, 1919. He was 67. 



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