According to the August 14 issue of the Durant Daily Democrat, Lee died at 11:15 p.m. at the hands of a posse of 500. An additional 1,500 citizens were estimated to have been involved in the manhunt. Reports indicate that Lee exchanged gunfire with his would-be captors until his ammunition was spent. The posse "calmly emptied their guns into his body."
Lee was accused of a range of crimes, the most serious of which was the critical wounding of a white woman, Mrs. Redden Campbell. She identified the corpse as that of her assailant. Mrs. Campbell expired later the same day. The mob took John Lee's body to a vacant lot near the railroad tracks, where they built a pyre of gathered lumber and set the remains on fire. It burned from nine in the morning until late in the afternoon. All that remained were ashes and a "few charred parcels."
Whites rioted throughout the town of Durant. The city's remaining blacks were warned "not to let the sun go down on them here." All left by sunset.
Rumors spread that blacks were organizing to return and avenge the death of John Lee. Durant's white citizens armed for the coming "race war." In several days, without additional violence, tensions calmed.