Dennie Thrower
Ethnicity Black
Occupation Lumberyard employee
Born 1902

October 4, 1936(1936-10-04) (aged 34)
Windsor, North Carolina, United States

Cause of death Shot by police
Parents Frank Thrower
Alice Sutton
Attack information
Date October 4, 1936
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location(s) Windsor, North Carolina, United States
Killed 0-1
Injured 13-16
Weapon(s) 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun

Dennie Thrower was an African-American lumberyard employee who wounded fifteen people, two of them seriously, in Windsor, North Carolina, United States on October 4, 1936, before being shot dead by police.[1][2][3]

Thrower was born in 1902 as the son of Frank Thrower and Alice Sutton.[4] On the morning of the aforementioned date, at around 8 a.m., Assistant Chief of Police W. L. Smallwood was dispatched to Thrower's dwelling near U.S. Highway 17, about one mile from Windsor, after his parents had filed a complaint that he had forced them out of their home at 2 a.m. When Smallwood stepped from his car Thrower fired at him with a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun, wounding him in the mouth, chest, and leg. Smallwood returned fire and then called for aid.[5][6][7]

Soon the one-storey shanty was surrounded by 60 policemen and their deputies, as well as armed citizens who constantly fired at the building, while Thrower slipped from window to window and shot at his besiegers, hitting some of them at a distance of 150 yards. When guns proved to be ineffective in routing Thrower from his hideout tear gas bombs were brought from Tarboro, but could not be used as police was unable to get close enough to fire them into the building. Eventually, bales of cotton were loaded on a truck, which then backed up to the house, but when Patrolman Welch rose behind the bales to fire the tear gas through a window he was shot in the face. Later dynamite was thrown at the building and tore off a piece of the roof, but also failed to dislodge Thrower.[5][6][7]

At last a local youth named Jim C. Johnson volunteered to set fire to the building. While police kept a steady barrage of gunfire at the front, Johnson crept to the rear of the house and threw kerosene-soaked rags onto the porch. Under the cheers of the 2000 people, who had gathered to watch the gunfight, the shanty caught fire, but Thrower still remained inside for the next half an hour. At 2 p.m., when he was finally surrounded by flames and after a part of the roof had collapsed, he rushed out of the house, according to differing reports either with his clothes burning, or naked with only one shoe on. Screaming he fired at police with his shotgun and a pistol while trying to dash away, but after a few paces he was killed by a volley of shots. The crowd then sought to burn his body, but was restrained by police. During the siege an estimated 1500 shots were fired.[5][6][7]

Most articles stated that 15 people were wounded in the shooting, but according to some reports a black boy was killed and eleven white and two black people were injured,[8] while yet others stated that there were in total 16 people wounded, none of them fatally.[6]


Among the wounded were:

  • Lewis Byrd
  • F. M. Dunston, policeman
  • A. B. Gilliam
  • M. H. Morris
  • C. E. Phelps
  • C. B. Roebuck, policeman
  • W. L. Smallwood, policeman, shot in face, chest, and leg
  • E. P. Spivey
  • J. W. Waters, policeman, shot in the chest
  • A. W. Welch, policeman, shot in the mouth and back of the head


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