The mob attacked a grocery store containing eight black men. Though initially caught unawares, a few of the black men in the store were armed and together they were able to keep the mob at bay. The town constable arranged a cease fire after many volleys of shots had been levelled at the store. As the black men left the store, eighteen of the white mob again rushed the men and fired on the group. Two of the black men were killed (including Carter), two severely injured, and two more slightly injured. None of the white men were injured.
Most of the white mob are believed to have been members of the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, which was founded in Pulaski in 1865. In addition to the riot, there were other murders and campaigns of general harassment were being waged in the area. The riot was just the largest demonstration of the KKK's growing power in Giles County, TN and the Middle Tennessee area. Over 1,300 lynchings were committed by the KKK during the run up the Election of 1868. Most of the violence were directed towards blacks to break Republican support, though "carpetbagger" and "scalawag" whites were also targeted.