August G. Nowka
Even though he only bore the title of Night Watchman, on August 20, 1939, August Godfrey Nowka gave the ultimate sacrifice any law enforcement office can give in the pursuit of his duties. On that fatal summer Sunday 48 year old August said farewell to his wife Myrtle Lee Nowka, his five children and reported for duty for the last time.
SummaryAfter receiving a call that wanted robbery suspects; Hugh Douglas 21, Lee Bowen 20 and Dorris Alvin Schafnitt 21 were seen at the Wallace Thompson Café, city Marshall LC Force and night watchman August G. Nowka responded. The trio was wanted in connection to several robberies in the Chickasha, Enid and Blanchard area. While Mrs. Thompson made hot sandwiches for the suspected felons, Marshall Force and August entered the café. Events here were reported differently in different papers and police reports. Either Marshall Force demanded the arrest of Hugh Douglas or as they placed the group under arrest and began to search them, Bowen began firing with a concealed gun, either a .380 or 32 caliber.
Events became chaotic and in her words, Mrs. Thompson did not realize what was happening until it was nearly over. What she did know was that Lee Bowen stepped to the door and was firing his pistol. He hit Nowka in the arm and then, as he bent forward clutching his arm, Bowen fired again hitting August in the neck and then a third time in the back. These wounds would prove fatal and the Watchman died before medical help could arrive.
During the melee Marshall Force was wounded in the leg and knocked unconscious. At this point Douglas and Bowen fled from the café and stole a car belonging to Troy Marlow and sped north to Oklahoma City. Dorris remained in the café and surrendered to the wounded Marshall. Douglas and Bowen fled to the Kansas-Oklahoma border where they were eventually arrested in a hail of buckshot, rifle and small arm bullets.
When the youths arrived at the hospital severely wounded they confessed to both the robberies and the murder. When the doctors saw the culprits they told them that the wounds were critical and that the pair “…were not likely to survive.” Perhaps stirred by this information Bowen confessed to be the triggerman in the firefight which was backed up by Hugh Douglas. Both survived however, with Bowen pleading guilty to murder and sentenced to life in prison. His partner Douglas received 50 years for armed robbery with a firearm and Schafnitt received a reduced seven year sentence for robbery. Hugh Douglas later died on February 24, 1942 when he entered into a shootout with Oklahoma City officers after escaping from prison.
August Godfrey Nowka is interred at Fairview Cemetery in Grady County, Oklahoma. After an extensive campaign Chief Donald Cluck of the Tuttle Police Department was able to add Officer August Godfrey Nowka’s name to the list of fallen officers at both the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Memorial and the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington D.C.