Deputy Sheriff Louis A. May
Willacy County Sheriffs Office
DOD September 5, 1926
Willacy County Deputy Sheriff Louis “Slim” May and Willacy County Deputy Constable Leslie Eugene “Bill” Shaw, a deputy constable under Hilario G. Gomez were shot and killed on September 5, 1926 after hearing a shot fired at a dance. Sidney Brandt, who was accompanying the officers, was slightly wounded.
According to the Willacy County News, “Deputy Constable Shaw, Deputy Sheriff Mays, night watchman Mike Chrestman, Sidney Brandt, Jack Shaddick and George Roube comprised a party of law enforcers detailed to keep peace around the Mexican dances Saturday night, two such dances being in progress at that time and lasted until after midnight”. Between 2 am and 3am on Sunday morning, a shot was fired near where one of the dances had been. The 6 split up and went to investigate the shooting. They had not gone very far when Brandt told Mays and Shaw he saw a gun pointed them. Soon after the shooting started, Deputy Constable Shaw was shot between the eyes and died instantly. Deputy Sheriff May was shot in the heart and died. Brandt was slightly wounded in the stomach.
Local officers theorized that the first shots were fired in order to lure the officers to their death for retaliation for previous arrest the officers had made.
According to newspaper accounts, on the night of the killings, Sheriff Teller and his deputies rounded up 20-24 persons (mostly Mexicans) who were in and around the area and placed them in jail for questioning.
On Tuesday, September 7, Tomas Nuñez, the father of Jose Nuñez, (one of the suspects in the shooting) was allowed to talk with his son at the jail. Shortly afterwards, Tomas told the Sheriff Teller his son confessed and would assist in locating the weapons that were used to kill Mays and Shaw.
Later that afternoon, 5 deputies, accompanied Jose and Delancio Nuñez, Cinco Gonzalez and Matt Zaller (an Austrian) along with Tomas Nuñez from the jail. The 5 were transported to a brushy area, eight miles west of Raymondville, where Jose Nunez pointed out to the officers where they would find the weapons. According to the newspaper accounts of the story, as the officers, along with the prisoners entered into the brush, they were met with gunfire. The officers ducked and return fire, however their prisoners were caught in a cross-fire. The result of the shootout left Jose and Delancio Nuñez, Cinco Gonzalez and Matt Zaller along with Tomas Nuñez dead.
The Nuñez Family made claims to the Mexican Consul General, that the body of Tomas Nuñez had been beheaded. The Governor of Texas, Miriam A Ferguson ordered the Texas Rangers to investigate the shooting of the prisoners at the request of the U.S. State Department. The “beheading” rumors later turned out to be false.
The Mexican Consul General also accused Sheriff Teller of letting a mob into the jail and taking the 5 prisoners out and shooting them. Later, a Willacy County Grand Jury investigated the case; and indicted Sheriff Teller and others with the murders. Sheriff Teller also had bigger problems to come when he and others were indicted by the U.S. Government for the famous Raymondville Peonage Cases, in January of 1927.
“In addition to the charge of peonage, Teller and Frank Brandt were tried in 1927 as accessories to the murder of Tomás Núñez and four other men in Willacy County. During the Nuñez murder trial it was established that Teller's sympathizers were harassing witnesses for the prosecution in the peonage cases. The sheriff argued that the murder charges brought against him were simply a political move to blacken his name before the peonage case trial and that the murder trial was instigated by his enemies, the "independents," to discredit him. During the murder trial he stated that there was nothing to the peonage cases and that if he had filed formal charges against the Mexicans arrested for loafing and let them stay out their fines in jail at the state's expense, he would not have gotten into such a mess. Other suspicious incidents occurred in the matter. An attorney who helped with the case against the defendants and served as a witness in the trial was beaten, and other witnesses declared they had been harassed in an attempt to keep them from testifying. Although half the defendants were found guilty of peonage, the general view in the county was that they had acted in an acceptable manner. The farmworkers' lives changed little. “
In closing, we will never know what the true motive was to the officer’s murder but the deaths were soon overshadowed by the continuing political, racial, crime, and “bootlegging” problems along the Mexico/US borders. Regardless of the motive, Willacy County Willacy County Deputy Sheriff Louis “Slim” May was killed on September 5, 1926 while operating in an official capacity as a Texas Law Enforcement Officer.
According to the death certificate, Louis May was born on February 28, 1906, in Victoria, Texas and was 20 years of age at the time of his death. He was survived by his parents, A.A. and Lois N. May and a sister, Josephine May. The information given as true and correct for the death certificate was furnished by A.A. May of Raymondville, Texas. Louis Mays was buried in Raymondville on Monday, September 6, 1926, in close proximity to Deputy Constable Leslie Eugene Shaw. The pallbearers for Louis Mays were Gus Zahn, V.Sabin, Bert Meyers, G.C. Harris, Arthur Shindle and H.A. Shapiro. Louis Mays was not married.
Texas Death Certificate #33552/31037, place of death was Willacy County, Texas.
Willacy County News, Thursday, September 9, 1926
Willacy County News, Special Edition, Tuesday, September 7, 1926
San Antonio Express Newspaper, Monday, September 6, 1926 – Not Included due to space
San Antonio Evening News, Monday, September 6, 1926– Not Included due to space
San Antonio Evening News, Tuesday, September 7, 1926– Not Included due to space
San Antonio Evening News, Wednesday, September 8, 1926– Not Included due to space
San Antonio Express, Wednesday, September 8, 1926– Not Included due to space
San Antonio Express, Thursday, September 9, 1926– Not Included due to space
San Antonio Light Newspaper, September 18, 1926– Not Included due to space
Laredo Times Newspapers, Wednesday, September 8, 1926
Laredo Times Newspapers, Thursday, September 9, 1926
Austin Statesman Newspapers, Monday, September 6, 1926
Austin Statesman Newspapers, Wednesday, September 8, 1926
Austin Statesman Newspapers, Friday, September 10, 1926
Austin Statesman Newspapers, Friday, September 17, 1926
Austin Statesman Newspapers, Monday, September 20, 1926
Photo of Louis May’s, Grave in Raymondville Cemetery by K. Coleman
The “Handbook of Texas, On-Line” RAYMONDVILLE PEONAGE CASES: The Handbook of Texas on-line, BIBLIOGRAPHY: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 2, 3, 4, 7, 1927. David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987). Oliver Douglas Weeks Collection, LULAC Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. Alicia A. Garza
Mr. Raymond Shaw, Omaha NE, Shaw Family Researcher, E- mails and Interviews by K. Coleman.
Mrs. Luann Kirk, Granddaughter of Leslie Shaw, E-Mails, Newspaper Stories, and Interviews by K. Coleman
Mrs. Lucienne Terry, Daughter of Leslie E. Shaw, Phone Interview by K. Coleman
Letter written by Leslie A. Wayne, about interviews with the younger sister of Deputy Louis Mays.
Submitted July 2006 by Kyle Coleman,