Firearms exhibit opens at Mohave Museum of History and Arts

Mohave County residents and tourists will soon be able to take a walk back through time when a firearms exhibit opens next month at the Mohave County Museum of History and Arts in Kingman.

Tony Libertini, assistant curator in the museum's artifacts department, said 12 pistols and three rifles will initially be part of the display.

The weapons dates back to the mid-1800s with some held in private collections.

"We have the handgun used to kill Sheriff Bob Tarr," Libertini said.

The Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver, its chambers loaded except for the round that killed Tarr, probably will draw the most attention when the exhibit opens in two weeks.

Clyde McCune, who was Kingman justice of the peace and county coroner at the time of Tarr's death, was at the museum Monday for a look at some of the firearms.

"Tarr was falling when he pulled his gun and fired four times, hitting him with each shot including one in the heart," McCune said.

Some other weapons that will be featured in the exhibit include: a Colt revolver of Army design from about 1860; a Springfield .45-caliber rifle circa 1875 that McCune was repaired and cleaned; a 1947 Colt revolver once owned by Frank G.

Gross, brother of John H.

Gross Sr.

of Mineral Park; a 1911 U.S.

Army issue Colt pistol, also once owned by Frank G.

Gross; a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in working condition with handle believed carved about 1885 by William L.

Turner of Texas; and an 8-inch shot case of leather that depicts a dog and tree design and identified in "Cowboy and Gunfighter Collectibles" by Bill Mackin.

Libertini said he expects the exhibit to open Jan.

12.

Tarr was fatally shot at the U.S.

93 inspection station north of Kingman on Oct.

21, 1963.

A Mohave County Miner story appearing Oct.

24, 1963, and a Life magazine article dated Nov.

22, 1963, provided the following information on the slaying of Tarr, who had been Mohave County sheriff since Jan.

1, 1963.

An employee of the inspection station greeted three men in a 1959 Plymouth sedan and asked to look in the vehicle's trunk.

The driver fumbled the car's keys, began acting suspiciously and could not produce ownership papers on the car, prompting a call to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

Tarr was the first lawman on the scene.

He got the driver, later identified as Donald Cline Carpenter, 29, to open the trunk and began inspecting it.

But Tarr turned his back to Carpenter during the search of the trunk, and Carpenter pulled a .38-caliber handgun and shot Tarr in the chest as the lawman turned back to him.

Tarr pulled his service revolver and fired four times as he fell mortally wounded.

An autopsy found that Carpenter, who died at the scene, had been struck once in the head and once in the chest by Tarr's bullets.

The investigation also determined the Plymouth had been stolen in Long Beach, Calif., and that Carpenter had recently befriended Bobby Roberts, 20, a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the shootings.

Carpenter was a parole violator from San Francisco and Roberts had violated parole from Arizona State Prison in Florence.

Robert Emmett Brainard, 21, was another passenger in the Plymouth.

He insisted he was a hitchhiker picked up near Las Vegas by Carpenter and Roberts and that he had no knowledge of their pasts.

At the time of Tarr's murder, Carpenter had been out of the California State Prison in Soledad for five months.

He served three years and two months of a life sentence for auto theft and robbery when he was paroled.

A new addition to the museum is nearing completion.

It will house the library on the top floor and a large artifacts room on the bottom floor, Libertini said.

The existing library in the museum will be turned into an exhibit room once the new addition is open.

But shelving is needed before it can open and fund-raising is continuing.

Anyone wishing to help may call 753-3195.