Ernest B. Vlasich

Image of Prohibition Agent Ernest Benedict Vlasich
Date of Birth: 
Date of Death: 
October 14, 1932
Location of Death: 
Clark County, WA
Image of the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms badge

Circumstances of Death

Prohibition Agents Ernest Benedict Vlasich and Ballard Turner went to the home of Jesse Cousins, located about 25 miles NE of Vancouver, WA.  The agents had planned to make an undercover purchase of moonshine whiskey.  Prohibitions Agents Crowell and Kirby, in a second automobile, parked about 200 yards from the residence to provide security during the operation.  The agents successfully purchased 2 gallons of moonshine from Cousins and then advised him that he was under arrest.  Without any warning, Cousins drew a .380 caliber pistol and fired at both agents.  Agent Turner was struck twice in the heart and died instantly.  Agent Vlasich was shot three times and seriously wounded.  The back-up agents immediately responded to the house and found the two agents lying in the driveway.  Cousins had fled.

Agents Vlasich and Turner were transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Vancouver.  Agent Vlasich underwent an operation to remove two bullets and the doctors believed that his prognosis was good.  However, he died several weeks later.  A posse of Prohibition Agents, along with State and sheriff deputies was quickly formed to search for Cousins, but he was an expert woodsman and remained hidden and out of sight.  Two months later, Prohibition Agents along with Sheriff R. E. McCrite, found Cousins hiding in the woods of Clark County and arrested him.  At trial, Cousins was found guilty of first degree murder by a jury and sentenced to life imprisonment at the State Penitentiary.


Agent Vlasich joined the Bureau of Prohibition on July 1, 1931, with an annual salary of $2,300.  He carried badge #362.


Agent Vlasich was born in Seattle, WA.  He was survived by his wife, Vasa (née Murray) and their daughter, Mary Ann (who was born 13 days after he died).  Agent Vlasich also had two sons from a previous marriage, Ernest, Jr. and Fred William Vlasich.

Associated Artifacts: 
Image of Inside ATF Newsletter - March 1999
Image of Inside ATF Newsletter - March 1999
Image of newspaper article with headline: Posse Hunts Slayer of Seattle Dry Law Agent
Image of newspaper article with title: Vlasich is Wounded
Image of newspaper article with title: Dry Law Agent Dies of Wounds
Image of ATF Summary, dated March 25, 1999, with headline: Prohibition agent honored 67 years after he was slain in Washington State
Image of Inside ATF Newsletter - June 1999
Image of Ernest Benedict Vlasich
Last Reviewed September 23, 2016