Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kidnapping and Murder of Brooke Hart

Siege

By 6:00 p.m. on November 26, hundreds of men had gathered by the county jail in San Jose. They milled around the entrance and out back of the building on First Street. A few burning torches were lit and placed in trash barrels along Market Street and the sound of angry voices were heard on every city corner. Rumors of an insanity verdict were very strong and the possibility that the suspects would somehow escape justice incited the restless crowd. Every few minutes someone would throw a bottle or a rock at the entrance to the jail. Inside, Sheriff Emig had reinforced the doors that led outside by bracing wooden two by fours against its handles. Police turned off the inside lights on the first floor so as not to give a clear target.

"Give them to us!" one man yelled. Sherriff Emig watched the men from the jail window. As soon as the crowd saw him, they reacted. "Give them up sheriff!" another demanded. "We'll take care of 'em!" More people began to assemble along Market Street and around the corner in front of the Hall of Records. Several cars were parked at St. John's Street and St. James Street blocking access for regular traffic. Nervous deputies waited anxiously behind the iron doors of the jail. Through the bars on the windows, they saw familiar faces of neighbors and friends in the mob. Inside their cells, Thurmond and Holmes paced back and forth like caged animals.

"It don't look good," Holmes said to one of the deputies.

About 8:00 p.m. one of the trapped deputies, apparently acting on his own, fired a tear gas shell into the crowd on Market Street. Hundreds of people scattered and ran into the adjoining alleys. But the mob became enraged. They threw rock and bricks into the windows of the jailhouse shattering glass and debris all over the sidewalk. They began to strip tiles off the nearby post office building and tossed them at the parked police cars. Police fired an additional volley of tear gas into the alley below sending people running for cover. Across the street, over a thousand citizens had gathered in St. James Park. More could be seen headed toward the park where torches were ignited and shouts of defiance could be heard.

"Turn them over! Hang the bastards!" they yelled. By 9:00 p.m. the mob had grown to over 5,000, most of who milled around St. James Park making noise, lighting fires and on occasion, tossing pieces of iron pipe, bottles and bricks toward the jail. Telephone wires had been destroyed so police had no way to call for reinforcements. Sheriff Emig ordered his men to take all weapons and hide them up on the third floor. If the mob succeeded in getting inside the jail, he did not want more bloodshed. "We had enough guns to kill a thousand people... the sheriff later told the local press, "but we didn't want to do it." At about 10 p.m., a messenger brought news to the Sheriff that they were coming into the jail at 11 and that police should not interfere.

 

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