The home of Medgar Evers, field secretary for the NAACP, shot to death by a sniper early June 12, 1963 outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi. Evers had just stepped out of his car (rear) and started toward the carport when he was hit in the back by a high-powered rifle. UPI File Photo
JACKSON, Miss., June 12, 1963 (UPI)-The top integration strategist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Mississippi was shot to death by a sniper early today while returning from a civil rights rally. The slaying of Medgar Evers, 37, followed by only hours a plea by President Kennedy for a racial golden rule to put out "fires of frustration and discord" among Negroes.
Evers, dying from a rifle slug in the back, was found by police investigating a report of a shooting in the neat, middle class Negro neighborhood where he lived in the Mississippi capital.
The Negro leader died about a quarter hour after being taken to the University of Mississippi medical center.
Evers' neighbor, Houston Wells, said the state NAACP field secretary yelled "Turn me loose" before he became unconscious.
Evers' wife, Myrlie, and their three children, Darrell, 9, Denise, 8, and Vandike, 3, were inside the house. Mrs. Evers said she heard her husband drive up and then heard shots. The family rushed outside, she said, and the children "talked to him and asked him several times to get up."
Mrs. Evers, who was placed under sedation, said "This will not stop anything. They will have to kill me and the children and an awful lot of others."
Detective John Chamblee said a preliminary investigation indicated that Evers, whose house was hit with a Molotov cocktail last month, was shot from a vacant lot across the street.
Chamblee said the rifle slug passed through Evers' body and plowed through a picture window in the house. The spent slug, badly defaced, was found on a kitchen table.
Wells, 39, who lives next door, said he heard the shooting and grabbed a pistol and ran outside to find Evers was lying in Evers' driveway. Wells said he fired a shot to scare the sniper away and then called police before rushing Evers to the hospital.
Evers was carrying an armload of T-shirts bearing the letters NAACP when he was shot. The shirts were scattered in the driveway.
Mayor Allen Thompson interrupted a Florida vacation to return here. He ordered police to use all their facilities to track down the slayer. District Attorney General Robert Kennedy expressed shock and offered services of the FBI.
Cong. William M. Colmer, whose district includes Jackson, told the House that the slaying was a "dastardly act." He said it was an inevitable result of "agitation by politicians, do-gooders and those who sail under the false flag of liberalism."
The NAACP in New York immediately offered a $10,000 reward "for information which results in the arrest of and conviction of any person or persons guilty of this crime."
NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins said in New York, "the entire nation has lost a man who believed in America and died defending its principle."
Wilkins said the slaying of Evers "demonstrates the blind and murderous hated" which obsesses too many Mississippians.
Evers, a Decatur, Miss., native and World War II veteran who joined the NAACP in 1952 and was named field secretary two years later because of his organizing skill, had been directing a civil rights campaign here since early May.
Evers had appeared on two local television stations May 20 to warn that "turbulent times are in store for Jackson" unless the white community is willing to accept changes.