Charles J. Close a Witness of the Shooting
Says the President Walked 30 Feet to a Chair after
He Was Shot.
MURDERER HELD ARM AS IF IN A SLING.
Private O’Brien of the Seacoast Artillery Secured the Pistol and
Refused to Give It Up.
Charles J. Close, Superintendent
of Buildings, who had charge of the arrangements of the Temple of
Music for the President’s reception, was an eyewitness of the tragedy.
The following is his account of it as related to a NEWS reporter
“I stood there, about 20 feet away,”
said Supt. Close, indicating a spot on a diagram in an aisle leading
to the platform, to the right and rear of where the President stood.
“I was merely sizing up the looks
of the people coming to the reception. I saw the President pat the
head of a child on the arms of an old man, then a few others came,
and then the man that did the shooting. He carried his right hand
wrapped in a handkerchief, and against his chest as if in a sling.
He extended his left hand to greet the President and then two shots
“I saw the President clasp both hands
over his abdomen. He turned a little and Milburn, Cortelyou and
Detective Geary caught him.
“He never reeled or flinched. He made
some remark about not letting the matter be exaggerated.
“Of his own accord, and supported
only by Geary, he walked past where I was standing to a chair and
sat down, 30 feet from where he was shot.
“His calmness and presence of mind
were wonderful. He never said anything more, but turned his eyes
toward the ceiling. When the ambulance came he arose from the chair
and went and laid himself upon the stretcher without assistance.
“As soon as the shooting was done
Foster grabbed the assailant and threw him across the aisle. A colored
man hit the murderer a smash in the nose and he went down. I saw
an artillery man grab the smoking pistol from his hand. A secret
service officer, I think he was, got the handkerchief. The artillerymen
took him for an accomplice and handled him roughly to get the handkerchief
from him. Secretary Cortelyou tried to get the pistol from the artillery
man, O’Brien, but the latter wouldn’t give it up. He gave it to
“There was a regular football scrimmage
taking place over the prostrate murderer. He was finally dragged
by the heels to the office of Henshaw, the custodian of the building.
“At the report of the shots somebody
cried: ‘Close the doors; don’t let anybody in or out.’”