A 1965 drive-by shooting that killed a black sheriff’s deputy is still unsolved.
In the early 1960s, the American South was at a crossroads. With segregation starting to crumble, blacks and whites faced off in tense, often violent confrontations. In Washington Parish, Louisiana, the black community began to push for integration of the Sheriff’s department. In 1964, David Creed Rogers and O’Neal Moore became the first black law enforcement officers in Washington Parish. O’Neal Moore’s window, Maevella Sam, recalled the day:
Doyle Holiday, a retired deputy from the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department, said public sentiment was split:
O’Neal Moore and Creed Rogers were working in a white world that barely tolerated their presence. It was a volatile situation, and it all caught up with them on June 2, 1965. After a year on duty, O’Neal and Creed were used to harassment, so they weren’t surprised when a pickup truck began to tailgate them. Creed Rogers recalled the incident:
Creed says the truck pulled along side them and someone inside opened fire. Both men were hit:
Hearing the shots, a neighbor ran to the accident scene. The neighbor stood guard until Deputy Doyle Holiday arrived a few minutes later:
The truck was stopped just twenty miles from the scene of the shooting. The driver was arrested but was soon released on a $25,000 bond. The charges were later dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Suspicion soon focused on the Ku Klux Klan, but the local chapter immediately denied any involvement. Racial tensions increased, but the sheriff refused to give in to the pressure. O’Neal was replaced by another black deputy. According to Maevella Sam, the attack accomplished nothing:
Doyle Holiday continued his investigation. Then, two weeks after the shooting, he became a victim of violence:
The Governor of Louisiana offered a $25,000 reward. Still, local residents refused to cooperate with the FBI or the Sheriff. The case was declared inactive in 1967. According to Doyle Holiday, fear of the Klan kept people quiet:
Then, in 1987, three informants contacted the FBI field office in New Orleans: two by letter, one by phone. Each claimed to know the people responsible for O’Neal Moore’s murder. As a result, the case was reopened. Special Agent Michael Heimbach with the New Orleans FBI said that the agency investigated the names:
Even after all this time, the FBI still does not have enough information to make an arrest. However, Agent Heimbach believes that the killers were members of the Klan:
Since Moore and Creed Rogers took their last ride together, the South has changed. Rogers refused to be frightened away from his police career, and in 1988, he retired as a full captain from the Sheriff’s Department:
Doyle Holiday thinks it’s only a matter of time before there’s a break in the case:
The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of O’Neal Moore’s killers.