Described by a Visitor
INCIDENTS AT BUFFALO WHEN THE PRESIDENT WAS SHOT.
Victim’s Intervention Saved His Assailant from Possible Death—
Severer Penalties Needed.
Mr. Wilton J. Lambert
of this city, who was in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot,
talked as follows to a Star reporter this morning:
“Yes, I was at the exposition in Buffalo
at the time the dastardly attempt was made by the assassin Czolgosz
upon the life of the President, and while our party had no intention
of participating in the public reception we were in close proximity
throughout the occurrence. By the time the signal for the beginning
of the reception was given a tremendous crowd was congregated within
and around the entrances to the music building, which rendered it
difficult for other than those composing the immediate circle surrounding
the presidential party to gain an accurate view of the assault itself.
The noise created by the crowd and augmented by the repeated discharge
of rifles by the Indians and others in front of their respective
villages dulled one’s natural apprehension at the report of firearms,
so while the sound of the assassin’s pistol was audible, it was
some moments before the situation could be realized.
President’s Intervention Saved Czolgosz.
“As soon as the colored
man Parker and others had felled Czolgosz, thus eliminating the
chance of a third shot, those who had already come to the President’s
aid, assisted by others, did all possible for his relief, and at
this time, but for the prompt intervention of the President on behalf
of the prisoner, the latter’s moments of life would have been few.
Indeed, I was told at the time by one near enough to hear that when
the President signaled for the safety of the culprit he said: ‘Poor
man, he knew not what he did.’ Upon the passing of a few moments
the ambulance, attended by a dozen mounted officers, was at the
door, but quicker yet the crowd had grown, until thousands of Americans,
some weeping, some awed in the realization of the outrage and many
consumed with intense anger toward the assassin, thronged the avenues
upon every side.
Taken to the Hospital.
“The President was
borne out tenderly upon the stretcher, and I witnessed a ride to
the hospital never to be forgotten. Part of the police escort, scarcely
able to keep in the van by galloping headlong through the narrow
passage, gradually being afforded by the mass of humanity, were
followed by the ambulance, drawn by two splendid horses, who pushed
madly at their heels. The sharp turn from the Amherst gate to the
hospital was made in masterly style, with hardly a slack in speed,
and just at the hospital door, in advance of the crowd, the President
was carefully withdrawn from the carriage, amid the wondering gaze
of fifty or more half-grown boys and girls collected at the gates,
none of whom had the slightest idea regarding the identity of the
distinguished victim. The President, intensely white and marked
with his life blood, rested calmly, one hand upon his chest and
the other just below. From this time on the hospital became the
Mecca for the people and after the arrival of the surgeons, every
bulletin was awaited with feverish anxiety.
Suspension of Exposition Attractions.
“First, the entertainments
in the ‘Streets of Cairo’ were suspended, and then one by one the
exhibits and music of the ‘Midway’ were stopped. People in attendance,
as yet ignorant of the cause, rushed into the driveways, and the
word was passed from mouth to mouth that the President was dying;
they were told to watch the flags upon the buildings; that these
would be dropped to halfmast as soon as death arrived. Groups everywhere,
their eyes from time to time riveted upon the flags, discussed in
hushed voices one topic until the hour of 7:30 approached, when,
for the first time, the extra papers were cried and nearly all repaired
to the esplanade to read and witness the magnificent electrical
display, which is due to be turned on promptly at that hour, yet
to add still more to the consternation, five, ten and even fifteen
minutes passed, but no lights; then, as imagination pictured the
worst, a dim glow darted over the many towers, growing gradually
brighter, to the crowds’ [sic] relief, whence, as suddenly there
sounded a sharp report and all was darkness. The tramp of many horses
going rapidly, the clang of an ambulance bell and the sound of heavy
carriage wheels broke upon the ear; around the curve a brilliant
headlight was seen to be forced through a surprised crowd, and a
glance at the lighted interior of the vehicle showed the wounded
President supported by the arms of two physicians, being carried
rapidly toward the city of Buffalo. The people, construing the moving
of the President to be a favorable indication, at once turned their
attention to the assassin, whom the ‘extras’ claimed was in the
music building, but upon being convinced that removal had been made
to the city jail the grounds became deserted and pandemonium reigned
upon the streets throughout the night.
More Severe Penalties Necessary.
“Being naturally interested
in the legal side of the matter, I was much surprised when, upon
investigation, I found that should the President recover the statutes
provided no greater penalty for the prisoner than the pitiful term
of about six and one-half years’ actual incarceration. It is a serious
oversight in my opinion that when severe penalties were being provided
for, attempts upon the lives of petty officers of the government,
an appropriate punishment for those attempting the life of the chief
executive was overlooked. To my mind, this omission is rendered
all the more inexcusable when we remember that for many months President
Garfield hovered between life and death, and this very condition
must have been patent in reference to Guiteau.”