June 25, 1909
William Clark, 18 years old of 2610 Lister avenue, was accidentally shot through the right eye by a playmate, and almost instantly killed, in the dooryard of Mrs. J. A. Avery at 2617 Lawn avenue at 8 o'clock last night.
"I did not know it was loaded," said Clem Burns, 14 years old, to his mother, Mrs. D. R. Webb, a moment later, as he threw the smoking revolver from him and burst into tears.
Clem lives with his mother and stepfather at 2625 Lawn, right next door to where the shooting occurred.
According to young Burns, the two boys, who were the best of friends, were sent by his mother to the grocery store of the Worries Bros. at Twenty-fourth street and Elmwood avenue for a box of matches. Before leaving the house Clark drew aside his coat and showed his companion that he had a cheap 38-caliber revolver in each hip pocket.
"He told me one of them was empty but that the other had one load in it," Clem told the police last night. "I asked him why he had the guns and he said he had been trying to kill a cat which had been killing chickens belonging to Mrs. Avery.
"As he turned to lead the way to the grocery I reached under his coat tails and got a revolver.
" 'Oh, now I've got your revolver and I am as big a man as you are,' I said, but he laughed at me and replied:
" 'You're not so big as you think you are; that gun isn't loaded.'
"I began snapping the revolver at him at that. He didn't wince and I snapped three times. Suddenly there was an explosion from the weapon.
"William sank down on the lawn. I knew at once what I had done and called to my mother:
" 'Oh, mother,' I cried, 'I've killed Willie.' Then I threw away the gun. I don't know why I did this, but I wanted to get the nasty thing away and out of my hands as quick as I could."
The boy's cries and protestations of innocence of any intent to commit murder as he was taken to No. 6 police station after the accident brought tears of sympathy to the eyes of neighbors, many of whom had known both boys for several years.
Ray Hodgson of 2608 Lawn, who was the only person besides Clem who saw the shooting, says he saw the two boys playing about Mrs. Avery's yard.
"They were always good boys, but full of pranks," said Mr. Hodgson. "However, Clark had a mania for carrying guns. He was seldom seen without one or more. Ususally the weapons were the kind which policemen call 'pot metal.' "
The story of the shooting told by Mr. Hodgson agrees in every particular with that given by the boy himself.
Young Clark was an orphan and lived at the house on Lister avenue with G. M. and J. P. Farnswowrth, brothers, for four years past. As the Farnsworths are unmarried and have work to do in the daytime, and Clark was out of a job, he was allowed to keep up the home in the way of a general housekeeper.