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Army Private from Brooklyn Killed in Racial Clash

June 19, 1963 - The South Brooklyn neighborhood near 13th St. was stunned today to learn that one of the most popular boys on the block, Army Pvt. Edward J. Betcher, 19, had been fatally injured in a racial brawl in Washington D.C. Betcher first was reported beaten to death, but after an autopsy, the coroner told police there was the imprint of a tire across Betcher’s chest. The youth suffered a ruptured spleen and ruptured heart, and police said he apparently had been killed when a car ran over him. The victim’s younger brother, Larry, 16, was alone in the family apartment when a telegram arrived from the Army that Betcher had died in D.C. General Hospital. Betcher’s father, Edward, 45, was at work at the Owens Illinois Corrugating Co., and his mother, Mary, 42, was in downtown Brooklyn with a neighbor whom she is sponsoring for citizenship. The father, notified by phone, arrived home in tears, and when his wife returned later, he broke the news to her. According to Washington police, three soldiers had stopped their convertible at a traffic light when a car with five Negro men and two Negro women pulled alongside. The Negroes made some remarks about the radio blaring in the soldiers’ car and then followed the trio, forcing the convertible to the curb. Two of the Negroes allegedly dragged Betcher from behind the wheel and beat him, while the other two soldiers also were pulled from the car and beaten. They were not seriously hurt, but apparently Betcher was then run over. In addition to his parents and brother, Betcher is survived by two sisters, Maryanne, 22, and Joanne, 8.


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