Paul A. Read

Image of Prohibition Agent Paul Albro Read
Date of Birth: 
Date of Death: 
July 21, 1933
Location of Death: 
Missoula, MT
Image of the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms badge

Circumstances of Death

Prohibition Agent Paul Albro Read arrested William Cates for violation of the National Prohibition Act in Missoula, MT.  Agent Read took Cates to the local jail using the suspect's own vehicle.  When they reached the jail yard, Cates suddenly pulled out a hidden gun and fired two shots at Agent Read, one shot striking him in the chest.  Agent Read attempted to take cover, but collapsed about 60' from the vehicle.  Cates followed and shot him again, twice.

Cates then attempted to escape, but the car keys were in Agent Read's pocket.  Sheriff, James Thompson and Constable L. F. Harlow, who witnessed the shooting, immediately placed Cates under arrest and seized a Colt revolver from him.  A search of his automobile recovered a gallon of whiskey.  Ironically, Agent Read had arrested Cates approximately three years earlier for a similar offense, without conflict. Cates was tried and convicted of first degree murder in October 1933 and sentenced to die (by hanging) on December 8, 1933.


Agent Read joined the Prohibition Unit on July 28, 1926, with an annual salary of $1,860.  He carried badge #1826.


Agent Read was born in Leeds, ND.  He was survived by his wife, Leona and two children.

Associated Artifacts: 
Image of telegram regarding the death of Investigator Paul Read
Last Reviewed September 23, 2016