The Shooting of Pedro Rodriguez

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005


On a hot Fourth of July weekend in the small south central Idaho farming community of Burley, perched on a bend of the Snake River, folks eagerly anticipated the Independence Day celebrations and the fireworks displays scheduled for Monday, July 5, 1920. About 150 miles to the northwest, Boise's police chief warned the capital city's youngsters, champing at the bit to light firecrackers, to be patient and wait until Monday. Then, he told them, they could celebrate if they were careful. But in Burley, it was the police themselves who couldn't wait, setting off their own fireworks before their scheduled holiday appearance. At about 11:30 that Sunday night, two night-duty Burley police officers stormed into a "bunkhouse," or a "shack," near the amalgamated Sugar Factory and the Ferrin Coal yards where several men were playing a game of cards. Both police officers burst into the dimly lit cabin with guns drawn and when shooting erupted a lantern on a table went out, leaving the interior of the building in darkness. The police officers, Russell Stoddard and Albert Fenn, backed out of the house and demanded that the occupants, all Mexicans, come out with their hands up. Two complied, and the cops ordered them against the wall with their hands over their heads. Inside, others tried to flee by cutting the screen from a window in the back of the house. Officer Fenn ran to the back to intercept those leaving by the window. As one ran away, Fenn ordered him to stop, but the man allegedly shot at Fenn who returned fire and the man dropped, mortally wounded.

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