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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Our History

Walter R. Tolbert

Name:  Walter Red Tolbert

Date of Birth: 1901

Date of Death: 02/22/1928

Location of Death: Columbia County, GA




Prohibition Agent Walter Tolbert and local officers W. S. Harrison and D. T. Fuller planned to raid an illicit distillery about five miles south of Harlem, GA.  As they approached the distillery, they were observed by still hands, all of whom quickly ran away.  Agent Tolbert and the officers then proceeded to destroy the distillery. Sometime later as the officers were departing the area in their Government car, they came under fire from ambush.  Agent Tolbert stepped out of the vehicle to take cover and was immediately shot and killed. Six suspects were later taken into custody and one, Burley Adams, confessed to the killing.  Adams attempted to use a unique defense at trial, by claiming that he was actually trying to kill Officer Harrison and not Agent Tolbert.


Agent Tolbert joined the Bureau of Prohibition on 5/13/1927, with an annual salary of $1,860.


Agent Tolbert was born in South Carolina.  He was single and survived by his parents who resided in Charleston, SC.