26 March 2008

Wargames Across the River

There have been some unusual stories involving guns in the news the last few days. First was the apparent suicide of the Franklin Township police detective - which is still being investigated as a probable suicide, or possible accidental shooting.

Today there were two more odd stories. Two investigators, working independently, have each come to the conclusion that the fatal shot that killed Robert F. Kennedy was not fired by Sirhan Sirhan, but by one of Kennedy's bodyguards. And famed Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme was somehow wounded when he was hit by a falling bullet fired up into the air by an unknown gunman while he was cooking outside at a golf tournament. It is believed that the gunman could have been up to a mile away!

We tend to think of firearms accidents as modern tragedies, but that isn't the case. Here is a story that appeared in The New York Times on December 17, 1896.


A Boy of Fourteen Shot in a Game of War.

EAST MILLSTONE, N.J., Dec. 16. - While playing imitating the Cuban-Spanish war, about 5 o'clock this afternoon in this village, William Swenson, fourteen years old, shot and killed Herbert Hayes, fourteen years old. Hayes had a stick representing a sword and was pretending to try and kill Swenson, who had a twenty-two-calibre rifle, which was supposed to be empty. Swenson pulled the trigger, and the ball entered Hayes's breast, which caused hemorrhage.

After the rifle was fired Hayes exclaimed: "willie, tell your mother I am hurt and send for a doctor." Dr. Taylor was summoned immediately, but Hayes was dead before he reached the house. He lived about 15 minutes. By permission of County Physiciam Wagner of Somerville the body was removed to his home.

Hayes was the oldest son of the Rev. R. F. Hayes, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The boy was a general favorite in the village. He and Swenson have been very much attached to each other. Swenson is the youngest son of O. A. Swenson, a passenger conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

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