Julian F. Arnold was born on May 18, 1847, and as a young man, worked as a tailor in Alexandria. At the age of 15 he enlisted in the Confederacy. He served under General Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War and spent two months in confinement, a prisoner of war. On August 13, 1870, he became an Alexandria police officer, less than one month after the department’s official founding.
Just before midnight on May 14, 1887, Officer Arnold and Officer Joseph Martin overheard two men planning a robbery of a saloon located at 1414 King Street. The saloonkeeper, Sefer Blouse, was known to keep lots of money at his establishment and that week’s receipts were especially high because a circus had just come to town.
Officers Arnold and Martin enlisted two citizens to assist them. They discussed their plans, and Officers Martin and one citizen went to warn Blouse of the robbery. Officer Arnold and citizen Ernest Padgett returned to the fairgrounds, near where the suspects had been overheard earlier. They came upon the two men in a circus ring. As Officer Arnold announced the arrest, both suspects began firing. Officer Arnold returned fire, but had already been shot in the torso. The suspects fled, and Officer Arnold was taken to Blouse’s establishment. He died at 2:15 a.m. on May 15, 1887.
One suspect was arrested that night and a second, Billy Williams, was apprehended a month later. The first suspect was acquitted, but Williams was convicted. He served five years in prison for Officer Arnold’s murder.
Officer Arnold, three days from his 40th birthday, was survived by his pregnant wife Jennie, and his four children, Robert, Julia, Arthur and Julian. His daughter May was born four months after his murder. He is buried at Methodist Protestant Cemetery in Alexandria.