Slain nearly a century ago in the line of duty, Town Sgt. Oscar Miller Martin, a revered member of the Newcastle (Va.) police department, will be honored for his life contributions—his name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Martin was 35 at the time of his death.
According to an article that ran in the Roanoke Times June 17, 1912, Sgt. Martin was shot while trying to arrest Harvey D. Looney for drunkenness.
Looney, who was known for his disgruntled approach to life, cornered Martin in his front yard the following day, shot Martin five times, critically wounding him, and allegedly robbed him of approximately $100.
Sgt. Martin was transported via an automobile to Jefferson Hospital that same evening, a trip that took four hours back then.
An excerpt from the Roanoke Times states, "He is 35 years old and his magnificent physique and his physical condition give him the wonderful vitality which has made it possible for him to survive the wounds."
Unfortunately, Martin died in the hospital June 27 and his body was brought back to New Castle the next day via train, after which a reward was posted for Looney's arrest—who had allegedly fled from his father's house upon horseback.
Looney was eventually apprehended, after which he tried to take his own life, and was subsequently charged with murder. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair on Friday, Nov. 29, 1912, but was granted a respite by Virginia Gov. Mann until Jan. 31, 1913.
In light of the commemoration of Sgt. Martin's life and his addition to the D.C. Memorial Wall, members of the Craig County Historical Society are in the process of doing further research on this incident, and seek any information surrounding the incident or either of the two men involved.