Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Special Agent Elmer Robbins was shot and killed in Greensburg, while searching a train coming from Ohio after having received a tip that two men were transporting a large load of illegal whiskey on it.
A man claiming to be a federal revenue officer had called Agent Robbins at home to make the report. Agent Robbins assembled a posse with the assistance of the Greensburg Police Department and Decatur County Sheriff's Department.
The posse stopped the train as it approached Greensburg and Agent Robbins began searching it. When he entered the coal car he was fatally shot. The two suspects then jumped from the train and hid nearby. It is believed they reboarded the train when it started moving again. Both were arrested in Indianapolis the following day.
The 28-year-old man who confessed to shooting Agent Robbins escaped from jail but was found to have drowned in the White River in Columbus about a month later. The charge as an accessory against his 27-year-old accomplice was later dismissed.
An investigation later revealed that the man who had alerted Agent Robbins to the illegal whiskey was impersonating a federal officer. He had hired the two men on the train to deliver the whiskey to him but believed they were stealing it. That man was charged with impersonating a federal officer.
Special Agent Robbins was survived by his wife and son.
The responsibilities of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Police Department (1889–1930) are now under the jurisdiction of the Norfolk Southern Railway Police Department.