Flowers had been on the force for two years when he and his partner, J. W. Smitherman were rousting vagrants from boxcars at the Alabama Great Southern railyard on the morning of August 28, 1902 when one of the men found sleeping in a boxcar turned and shot him in the chest. He was survived by his wife and stepdaughter. Two suspects were apprehended later, bound for Tuscaloosa.
His story was uncovered by researchers from the "Officer Down Memorial Page". Bessemer Police historian Hank Edwards found an account of the murder in a copy of the Bessemer Workman in the Bessemer Hall of History.
- Gordon, Robert K. (May 2, 2007) "Officer who died in line of duty in 1902 to be honored." Birmingham News.
- John J. Flowers Officer Down Memorial Page.