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Message to the Congress Recommending Legislation for the Relief of the Families of Emilio Cortez Rubio and Manuel Gomez.

July 01, 1932

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit herewith a report by the Secretary of State recommending the enactment of legislation for the purposes described therein, and the draft of a bill for this purpose.

The recommendations of the Secretary of State have my approval and I request the enactment of legislation for the purposes indicated in order that this Government may carry out the projects and meet the obligations outlined in the report.


The White House,

July 1, 1932.

Note: Salvatore and Emilio Cortez Rubio were cousins of Pascual Ortiz Rubio, President of Mexico. See also 1931 volume, Item 221.

Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson's report follows:
The President:
I have the honor to transmit for submission to Congress, in case you approve, the following claims of the Mexican Government on behalf of its nationals with a view to obtaining the necessary authorization for payment:

Emilio Cortez Rubio, family of $15,000
Manuel Gomez, family of 15,000

Upon available information the facts upon which their claims are based are substantially as follows:

Early in the morning of June 7, 1931, Salvatore Cortez Rubio, Emilio Cortez Rubio, and Manuel Gomez, who had been attending schools in Kansas and Missouri, left Atchison, Kans., in an automobile belonging to Mr. Gomez, for their homes in the Republic of Mexico. In the car when they started were several firearms and ammunition for the weapons.

The party stopped at about 11 o'clock in the evening of June 7 in the outskirts of Ardmore, Okla., where the two Rubios alighted from the car and purchased root beer and sandwiches. Mr. Gomez, who was suffering from malaria, and who was wrapped in a blanket, did not leave the car. Shortly after the arrival of the Mexicans' car at the root-beer stand, William E. Guess and Cecil Crosby, deputy sheriffs of Carter County, Okla., in which the city of Ardmore is situated, drove up to the stand in an automobile. It appears that these officers had been searching for persons guilty of a recent robbery. The deputy sheriffs did not leave their car but drank root beer which was brought to them from the stand by an attendant. At this time they were about 10 feet away from the Rubios, who, they concluded, were not the persons for whom they were searching. No unfavorable comments were made by the officers in regard to the Mexican individuals.

They left the root-beer stand prior to the departure of the Mexicans, shortly thereafter stopping at a filling station, where they conversed with the attendant in charge, during which time the Mexicans' car passed the station. Very shortly thereafter the officers left the station and a little over a block beyond the station came upon the Mexicans' car, which had stopped. Officer Crosby had some conversation with Mr. Salvatore Cortez Rubio, during which it appears Crosby reprimanded Rubio for some action of the latter and that Crosby stated to Rubio that he was a deputy sheriff and exhibited his badge. This announcement and exhibition of badge, however, was later denied by Rubio. After reprimanding Rubio, Crosby stepped back to the east door of the car and asked the occupants where they were from. It is stated that on this occasion he exhibited his badge and announced his official position. The occupants of the car told Crosby that they were students returning from their schools to their homes in Mexico and in the course of the conversation Crosby observed that Emilio Cortez Rubio, who was seated nearest to him, held an automatic revolver in his hand.

It does not appear, however, that this revolver was pointed at Crosby or that either of the occupants of the car made any threatening movements. Crosby pulled his own weapon with his right hand and with his left hand grasped the revolver which was in Rubio's hand and, after some resistance on the part of the latter, succeeded in wresting the weapon from his possession. While all this was going on, Guess backed his car to the rear of the Mexicans' car and near the curb for the purpose, so he stated, of removing it from the path of traffic. He was thus in a position to observe the movements of Crosby and it seems that he heard enough of the conversation between Crosby and the Mexicans to know that the latter had declared themselves as students bound for their homes in Mexico. Guess stated that he observed the struggle between Crosby and Emilio Cortez Rubio for the possession of the revolver and that he saw Crosby take the revolver out of the car while he was holding his own revolver in his other hand. Guess alighted from his car and walked up to the Mexicans' car where he was confronted at the west door of the car by Manuel Gomez, who had just alighted therefrom and who was wrapped in a blanket.

Guess stated that Gomez held a revolver in his hand which was pointed at him and, without being clear as to whether or not he said anything to Gomez, he shot Gomez twice, as a result of which the latter fell to the pavement and died shortly thereafter. Guess stated that he heard a noise in the car and, turning to see what had occasioned it, he saw a man with his face turned toward the door which he had approached extracting a small pistol from his pocket and that, without addressing this man or being addressed by him. Guess immediately shot him once, the shot proving fatal within a few moments. After the shooting, the officers turned their attention toward Salvatore Cortez Rubio and ordered him to put up his hands, which he did. Rubio stated that as he was standing in the glare of the headlights of the car, he was unable to see the occurrences at the time of the shooting other than to note the flashes through the windshield, but he entertained no doubt but that Guess did all of the shooting.

Shortly after the shooting occurred, Matthew Alexander and Ott Holden, police officers of the city of Ardmore, who had passed the two cars just before the shooting and had noticed Crosby standing by the east door of the front car, parked their own car and returned to the scene of the shooting and, at the request of Guess, Holden took charge of Salvatore Cortez Rubio, upon whom no weapon was found. Both officers observed the body of Manuel Gomez lying on the pavement between his car and the curb and that Emilio Cortez Rubio was slumped in his seat with his head leaning against the door of the car, in a dying condition. Upon being requested by Guess, Alexander made a search and found a loaded revolver lying by the right side of Gomez, the safety clutch of which was said to have been in a position permitting the discharge of the gun. The position of the bodies of the two Mexicans who were killed was observed by disinterested witnesses after the shooting. It further appeared that a few minutes after the shooting, but subsequent to the arrival of 8 or 10 persons upon the scene, Guess reached into the car and took therefrom, either from the seat or from the pocket of Emilio Cortez Rubio's clothing, a small Derringer pistol and a magazine containing ammunition.

Following the shooting, Salvatore Cortez Rubio was detained in the police station in Ardmore for the remainder of the night. He was released the next day and stayed in Ardmore until the conclusion of the trial of Guess.

The two officers, Guess and Crosby, were put on trial in the State courts of Oklahoma but were acquitted by the juries before whom the cases were tried. On the trial of the cases, it appeared that information was produced which indicated that that section of Oklahoma had been in a more or less disturbed state from the acts of criminal elements; that several peace officers had been killed or injured; and that, consequently, the peace officers were more or less in a nervous and excitable condition.

The killing of these Mexican youths resulted in the creation of an intense feeling on the part of the Mexican people which, whether or not justified, is bound to remain a source of irritation between the two Governments.

In the circumstances, and in view of the further fact that the whole incident was a most deplorable one, I believe that the payment of the foregoing claims, in the amounts stated, as an act of grace and without reference to the question of legal liability, would be warranted.

As a matter of convenience, a tentative draft of proposed legislation is transmitted herewith.
Respectfully submitted.
Department of State,

Washington, July 1, 1932.

Herbert Hoover, Message to the Congress Recommending Legislation for the Relief of the Families of Emilio Cortez Rubio and Manuel Gomez. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207127

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