Circumstances of Death
On October 25, 1963, Special Agents Ralph Holt, Joe Cooper, Richard Dickinson, S. B. Whitlow and Alabama Beverage Control Agent Harold Hartranft executed a federal search warrant at Club 92, a dance hall about five miles southwest of Brent, Alabama. The dance hall was operated by Tod Tidwell.
While the search was ongoing, Tidwell, who had feigned cooperation, suddenly drew a .38 caliber revolver from his pocket. He fired twice, instantly killing Agent Cooper and wounding Agent Holt, who immediately took up a defensive position. There were several more shots exchanged and Agent Holt was also killed. Tidwell is believed to have been wounded during this exchange of gunfire.
As the sound of gunfire filled the club, Agent Whitlow arrived and engaged Tidwell in a gunfight, probably wounding him again several times. Tidwell attempted to retreat to the basement, however, Agent Hartranft, who was already in the basement, fired several shots driving him back upstairs. Tidwell, at this point seriously wounded, took refuge behind the bar and fell unconscious.
Agents Holt and Cooper were pronounced dead at the scene. Tidwell was later taken to Perry County Hospital in Marion and died the following day.
Agent Holt joined the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division on October 11, 1954, and was assigned to the Tuscaloosa, Alabama field office. In August 1961, he was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent of that office.
During his career, Agent Holt was the recipient of numerous letters of commendation for his outstanding investigative work and professionalism while carrying out his duties. In 1961, Agent Holt (along with other ATTD agents) received a commendation from Attorney General Robert Kennedy for his outstanding law enforcement assistance during civil unrest in Montgomery, Alabama.
Agent Holt was a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy (1945 to 1947) and graduated from Florence State College in Alabama.
Agent Holt was born in Cloverdale, Alabama. He was survived by his father, Joseph.