15 Law Enforcement Officers Murdered By Domestic Extremists Since the Oklahoma City Bombing
Since the Oklahoma City bombing, domestic extremists have murdered 15 law enforcement officers. Each of their deaths was a unique tragedy.
By Susy Buchanan
Donald McMurray Ouzts, 63
Abbeville County, S.C., Magistrate's Office
Danny Wilson, 37
Abbeville County, S.C., Sheriff's Office
Dec. 8, 2003
"Danny Boy" is what Danny Wilson's friends liked to call the perennially smiling, 37-year-old sergeant who served the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office for seven years before he and Abbeville Constable Donnie Ouzts were gunned down in an afternoon that rocked the historic South Carolina town.
Wilson was a former high school football player, father to four daughters and one son, and a member of the National Guard for 19 years when he was murdered in late 2003. He had hoped to spend much of 2004 in preparation for deployment to Iraq. When it came time to say goodbye to Danny Wilson, the crowd at his memorial service was too great for the church where it was held to contain.
"I thank God for the time Danny shared with us," Abbeville County Sheriff Charles Goodwin told the mourners at Wilson's funeral. Goodwin also described Wilson as a natural leader. "I would often hear the officers saying 'Danny outdid us today — but we'll get him tomorrow."
Wilson's last day of work began just after 9 a.m. on Dec. 8, when he knocked on the door of a well-known father-and-son pair of extremists, Arthur and Steven Bixby. The Bixbys, who were steeped in the conspiracy theories and antigovernment hysteria of the militia movement, were adamantly opposed to the planned widening of the highway running by their home, which would slice off a tiny ribbon of their front yard. Wilson knew the family — he had arrested Steven for threatening a former friend in the past — and was hoping to calm them down before the highway crew showed up later that day. Instead, Wilson was shot in the chest through the Bixbys' closed front door with a 7mm magnum pistol. Then the Bixbys dragged him inside and handcuffed him as he lay in an expanding pool of his own blood.
A short time later, as Wilson's cruiser idled outside the house, Constable Ouzts, a warm-hearted man known around town as "Smiley," made his way to the Bixbys' door.
Ouzts, 63, was nearing retirement and had recently recovered from heart surgery. Like Wilson, Ouzts had been a sheriff's deputy before becoming a constable eight years earlier. His duties now involved serving papers for the Abbeville County Magistrate's Office.
Ouzts' first great-grandchild was three months old. His son Chris later described his father to the local Independent-Mail as "a wonderful family man and a good Christian man. He loved everybody, and anybody will tell you he always had a smile." Ouzts was close to his wife, and had made a habit of visiting her at her workplace every morning. On the morning of his death, Smiley Ouzts had stopped by to bring her the mail before heading over to the Bixby home.
It was over almost before it began. Unaware of all that had happened, Ouzts approached the Bixbys' front door when a local resident yelled a warning. As Ouzts turned to edge away, a shot rang out. Constable Ouzts was dead.
With responding officers uncertain as to whether Wilson was alive or dead inside the house, law enforcement spent the day trying to negotiate with the Bixbys to no avail. Armored vehicles were sent in to ram the Bixbys' porch, and a robot equipped with a camera was dispatched into a hole in the house, sending back footage of Wilson handcuffed, lying on his stomach in a pool of blood. A swat team eventually entered and retrieved Wilson's lifeless body. Thirteen hours after it began, and after a three-hour gun battle, the Bixbys surrendered.