Just two years after the occupation of Wounded Knee at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, violence on the reservation would once again command national attention when two FBI agents were killed at the Jumping Bull property on June 26th, 1975. Killed in the first ten minutes of shooting, their deaths triggered a nationwide manhunt and sparked several hours of gunfire that left one Native man dead and another imprisoned for life.
The exact events of the shooting remain shrouded in mystery. At approximately 11:50 a.m. on June 26th, Special Agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, driving separate unmarked vehicles, began following a car on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They were allegedly attempting to serve a warrant on a Native man named Jimmy Eagle for robbery and believed him to be in the vehicle. Both the description of the car and the agents’ reason for following it are disputed.
What is known is that both agents were soon involved in a shooting at the Jumping Bull ranch, purportedly after receiving fire from three separate locations. Williams radioed for help, but both agents were dead before reinforcements could arrive. As law enforcement surrounded the area, they too came under fire and were unable to reach the agents’ bodies and bullet-riddled cars until 4:25 p.m. Each agent had several gunshot wounds, including fatal shots to the head. At some point on the same day, a Native man and AIM member, Joseph Stuntz, was also shot through the head, presumably by law enforcement although his death was not investigated; his body was found wearing an FBI jacket from Special Agent Coler’s trunk.
Jack R. Coler (1947 – 1975)
Ronald A. Williams (1947 – 1975)