Foster killed in 1942 shootout near Elida

By Don McAlavy: CNJ Columnist

It was said that Bailey Foster went berserk early one Sunday morning, seriously wounding two officers who sought to quiet him. Foster lived on his farm which was said to be two miles southeast of Elida.

Three hours earlier Foster had attacked Roosevelt County Sheriff R.N. McCall and his deputy, Tom Cardin, with a shotgun, seriously wounding both men. McCall had gone to the home unarmed and at the request of Mrs. Foster, who told the officers her husband had threatened her and her children and had run them off the place.

The officers were standing outside the front door of the Foster home talking to Foster when he opened up on them with a Winchester pump shotgun. McCall was wounded in the right hand and leg and one of his thumbs was shot away. Cardin, who turned to run, was shot in the back, more than 100 pellets entering his back and the side of his face.

Foster then turned his gun on Jack Gentry, chief deputy, who was standing near his vehicle in the yard. The right front door of his car was shattered by the shot, but Gentry escaped injury.

H.H. Daniel, one of Portales constables, barely escaped injury. Gentry carried the injured officers to town and summoned aid from Portales and Clovis.

A posse of from 16 to 25 officers responded, including Sheriff Bill Collins and his deputy Val Baumgart of Clovis. Clovis city police officers Beeman Temple and Virgil Bohannan, Roy Vermillion, head of the state police crime department, and state Patrolman Lynn Smith plus Sheriff Frank Young of Roswell and his deputies also responded.

The posse reached the Foster home before daylight. Foster would not heed their warning to come out, and the officers fired tear gas projectiles into the house, along with shots from other weapons.

Shooting continued and some officers moved into the house from various entrances. Several shots were fired at close range. Shooting continued and officers reached the interior of the house and heard a dull thud. Foster had fallen near a front entrance. His bullet-riddled body was lying near a doorway, the shotgun near his side. Examinations revealed 10 punctures in his body, all above waist-line. He die instantly on March 1, 1942.

Foster, they said, was distraught, perhaps from worry over this depleted physical condition. He was a war veteran.

Officers said he had a long record of “brushes” with the law.


Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:

dmcalavy@telescopelab.com