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Lordsburg Killings

Lordsburg Killings
Japanese internees, who came from the Monterey, Salinas, and Watsonville areas of California, at Camp Lordsburg.
Date July 27, 1942
Location Near Lordsburg, New Mexico, United States
Deaths 2

The Lordsburg Killings refers to the shooting of two elderly men named Toshiro Kobata and Hirota Isomura at an [2]


  • Background 1
  • The killings 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • References 4


Camp Lordsburg was originally an [3]

The incident on July 27 was not the first shooting to occur at Camp Lordsburg. Although the Department of Justice managed the camp, the [2]

The killings

On the night of July 27, 1942, a group of 147 Japanese men were being transported to Camp Lordsburg from another camp at [2]

The murders occurred sometime during the two-mile trek through the desert. Clarence Burleson saw the two internees wander off of the road. According to the official report, Burleson shouted "Halt!" twice before shooting both of the men with a [2]

A portion of the official government response follows:


At first, Burleson was treated as a hero for stopping an "escape attempt." An officer at the facility even collected the shotgun shells used in the killing as souvenirs and said that Burleson "deserved a medal." Army headquarters, on the other hand, did not take the incident so lightly and immediately launched an investigation of the affair. As result, Burleson was eventually arrested, charged with "willfully and lawfully" committing murder, and then sent to the [2]

The result of the court martial was not accepted by everyone. A memo from the Department of State says: "Examination of the Army '​s reports on the shootings gives the impression that the Army '​s shooting rule comes close to making death, rather than up to 30 days arrest as provided in Article 54 of the Geneva Convention, the penalty for attempted escape." The Japanese government also protested the killing, after hearing about it from internees who had been expatriated, and lodged a formal complaint. The Japanese said that "it is inconceivable that aged [elderly] invalids hardly able to walk should while under military escort have attempted to escape."[1][4]

A Japanese internee, Sematsu Ishizaki, claimed that the camp's commandant, [2]

Presently, barracks, concrete, and foundations of some of the buildings at the camp can still be visited, in addition to a historical marker that is located near the site.[5]

The marker reads as follows:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Big American Night : The Lordsburg Killings". Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Many Mountains Surrounding .::. The Killings at Lordsburg .:. Lordsburg Internment camp". Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ "New Mexico Office of the State Historian : Lordsburg Internment POW Camp". Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ Elleman, Bruce. Japanese-American Civilian Prisoner Exchanges and Detention Camps, 1941-45. Routledge.  
  5. ^ "Documentary focuses on WWII Japanese - American internment camps in New Mexico - War History Online". Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Camp Lordsburg, NM". Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
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