A mob of armed white men went to Rosewood and surrounded the house of Sarah Carrier, which was filled with approximately 15 to 25 people seeking refuge, many of whom were children hiding upstairs under mattresses.
Some of the children were in the house because they were visiting their grandmother for Christmas. They were protected by Sylvester Carrier and possibly two other men, but Sylvester may have been the only one armed. He had a reputation of being proud and independent. In Rosewood, he was a formidable character, a crack shot, expert hunter, and music teacher, who was simply called “Man”. Many whites considered him arrogant and disrespectful.
Sylvester Carrier was reported in the New York Times saying that the attack on Fannie Taylor was an “example of what negroes could do without interference”. Whether he said this is debated, but a group of 20 to 30 men, inflamed by the statement, went to the Carrier house. They also believed the black community in Rosewood was hiding escaped prisoner Jesse Hunter.
Reports conflict about who shot first, but after two members of the mob approached the house, someone opened fire. Sarah Carrier was shot in the head. Her nine-year-old niece, Minnie Lee Langley, had witnessed Aaron Carrier taken from his house three days earlier; when Langley heard someone had been shot, she went downstairs to find her grandmother, Emma Carrier. However, Sylvester placed her in a firewood closet in front of him as he watched the front door, using the closet for cover: “He got behind me in the wood [bin], and he put the gun on my shoulder, and them crackers was still shooting and going on. He put his gun on my shoulder… told me to lean this way, and then Poly Wilkerson, he kicked the door down. When he kicked the door down, Cuz’ Syl let him have it.”
Read about the massacre and aftermath at: Daily Black History Facts