A Holyoke Boy Killed, May 8, 1898

by Laurel | May 8th, 2009

May 8, 1898
A Holyoke Boy Killed

John Welch, 17, Shoots Raymond Martin, 12 — Accident Claimed — Says “He Didn’t Know it Was Loaded” — Death Was Almost Instantaneous.

John Welch, 17, of 09 Pearl street, Holyoke, shot and almost instantly killed Raymond Martin, 12, of 41 Lincoln street yesterday afternoon about 3:30 o’clock. The shooting took place on the pier on the “island,” a little north of the bluff beyond the saw-mill, and appears from the testimony that has thus far been brought to light to have been accidental — another case of the carelessness that has cost so many lives. Welch immediately after the shooting ran for a doctor, and as soon as he found that his playfellow was dead hastened of his own accord to the police station and gave himself up. He was released on bail last night, bonds of $3000 being furnished by relatives and friends.From the story told by the boys it appears at the time of the shooting there were six of them on the pier, whither they had gone to shoot muskrats. These were John Welch, who had the rifle in charge; Winfield Brown, Arthur Burnham, Raymond Martin, the boy that was killed; Walter Gifford and a smaller boy named Sawin. Two shots had been fired and one muskrat secured. The Brown boy was skinning the muskrat and the others were watching for other rats. The rifle was owned by the Brown boy and was in the hands of John Welch, who was looking up and down the stream. “Guess you had better pullout that cartridge,” remarked the Brown boy, and Welch said that he would and made a movement to do so, “Say, let me shoot the rifle once, will you?” asked Raymond Martin. “Pooh, you can’t shoot this gun,” retorted Welch. “I can shoot the one that Willie Brown had,” said Martin, “I have shot that one before now.” “This is the same one,” put in Brown; “my brother gave it to me Christmas time.”

Brown was busy skinning the muskrat but saw that Welch held the rifle in his hands and was apparently idly fingering the trigger. Of a sudden there was a sharp report and Brown looked up to see the Martin boy fall forward on his knees and then fall over backward. He uttered no sound, but in a moment the boys all screamed for help and Welch darted away for the nearest doctor, returning soon with Dr. Sackett. Life was extinct before the doctor arrived, however. The police were at once notified, but before they could act, Welch gave himself up at the police station. Welch claims that he thought that he had extracted the cartridge and pulled the trigger carelessly. One of the boys says that Welch said if the gun was loaded (pointed at Martin), he could shoot the large “Maine” button off from his coat, and that it was almost immediately after this remark that the firing took place. This is denied by the Brown boy.

An investigation was at once begun by the police, and young Welch was formally taken into custody and released on bail. He is the son of Michael Welch, the saloon-keeper and ex-ball player. Raymond Martin was the son of Henry Martin, an employee of the Far Alpaca company. There seems to be no evidence to show that the shooting was intentional. The body was viewed by Medical Examiner Holyoke. The bullet was a 32 caliber, and the rifle a single-shot, breech-loading Remington. The bullet went through the left breast obliquely, and left the back on the right side, penetrating the lung and blood vessels. It is the first serious shooting accident in Holyoke for some time, and should prove a warning to those who are in the habit of carelessly pointing weapons about.

Springfield Republican, May 8, 1898, page 4

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