Ralph A. Holt

Special Agent Ralph Ackerman Holt
Date of Birth: 
1927
Date of Death: 
October 25, 1963
Location of Death: 
Bibb County, AL
US Treasury, IRS Investigator badge - Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division

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.

Background

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.

Personal

Agent Holt was born in Cloverdale, Alabama. He was survived by his father, Joseph.

Associated Artifacts: 
Letter from Attorney General Robert Kennedy to Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon thanking him for the services of the Alcohol and Tobacco Division personnel who assisted during the Montgomery, Alabama disturbances.
Charleston Daily Mail, dated Saturday, October 26, 1963, with the headline, Two Alabama Liquor Agents Killed in Gun Battle
Indiana Evening Gazette newspaper article with the headline, Slay 2 U.S. Liquor Aides in Alabama Raid
Reno Evening Gazette article with the title, Liquor Agents Killed in Gun Battle
The Daily Courier article with the headline, Tavern Owner Kills Two Liquor Agents in Alabama Raid
The Birmingham News article with headline, Two Federal Liquor Agents Slain in Fight
Newspaper article with headline, Two Federal Liquor Agents Slain in Fight
Marietta Daily Journal article with headline, Two Federal Liquor Agents Shot to Death in Alabama
Commendation letter to Ralph Holt from the director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, Dwight E Avis
Last Reviewed July 17, 2020