Source: National Police Gazette
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “President McKinley Shot Twice While Holding a Reception at the Buffalo Exposition by a Cleveland, O., Anarchist”
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 79
Issue number: 1258
|“President McKinley Shot Twice While Holding a Reception at the Buffalo Exposition by a Cleveland, O., Anarchist.” National Police Gazette 28 Sept. 1901 v79n1258: p. 7.|
|Manuel de Azpiroz [variant spelling below]; Johann Sebastian Bach; William I. Buchanan; George B. Cortelyou; Leon Czolgosz; William A. Damer; George F. Foster; William J. Gomph; Samuel R. Ireland; Vertner Kenerson [misspelled below]; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Roswell Park [misspelled below]; Presley M. Rixey; Alfred F. Zittel [misspelled below].|
|The article includes two illustrations, captioned as follows: “A Howling Mob Surrounded the Prisoner and Tried to Take Him from His Captors” and “Police Finding Anarchistic Literature in the Rooms of the Assassin.”|
President McKinley Shot Twice While Holding a Reception at the Buffalo
Exposition by a Cleveland, O., Anarchist
The Assassin Fired at the Executive as He Reached Out to Shake
with Him During a Monster Levee
HE WAS BADLY BEATEN AND JUST ESCAPED A LYNCHING
Many Arrests Made in Buffalo and Chicago of Anarchists Who Are Said
to Have Instigated the Crime
An assassin, who later confessed that he was
an Anarchist, shot twice at President McKinley at Buffalo, N. Y., on the afternoon
of September 6, and wounded him twice, once in the groin and once in the chest.
Five minutes before the tragedy the crowd in and about the Temple of Music was
in the most cheerful humor. When the President’s carriage, containing besides
the Executive, Mr. Milburn, president of the Pan-American Exposition, and Mr.
Cortelyou, the President’s private secretary, drove up to the side entrance,
it was met by a mighty salute of cheers and applause.
The three gentlemen alighted and were escorted to the door of the building. A carriage containing George Foster and S. R. Ireland, secret service men, drove up at once, and these, with several other detectives, also entered the building. The President was met by Director-General Buchanan.
From the main entrance to the temple, which opens on the esplanade, where thousands had gathered, an aisle had been made through the rows of seats in the building to near the centre. This aisle was about eight feet wide and turned near the centre to the southwest door of the temple.
It was so arranged that the persons who wished to shake hands with the President would enter by the southeast door, meet the President in the centre and then pass out of the southwest door. Where the aisle made the turn in the centre tall palms and green plants were placed, so the President stood under a bower. Both sides of the aisle were lined with strips of purple bunting.
From the southeast door and extending up to and around the curve on either side was a line of soldiers from the Seventy-third Seacoast Artillery, interspersed with neatly uniformed Exposition guards under the command of Captain Damer.
When the Presidential party entered the building the soldiers came to “Attention.” The President was escorted to the centre of the palm bower, and Mr. Milburn took a position on his left so as to introduce persons as they came in.
Mr. Milburn ordered the door opened, and immediately a wavering line of people, who had been squeezed against the outside of the door for hours, began to move up through the line of soldiers and police to where the President stood. An old man with silvery white hair was the first to reach the President, and a little girl he carried on his shoulder received a warm salutation.
W. J. Gomph, an organist, started on Bach’s sonata in F, low at first, and swelling gradually until the auditorium was filled with the melodious tones of the great organ.
Secretary Cortelyou stood at the President’s right. Foster, a Secret Service man, who has travelled everywhere with the President, took a position not more than two feet in front of Mr. Milburn, and Ireland, another Secret Service man, stood by his left, so that he was the same distance in front of the President. Detectives were scattered through the aisle.
Through a narrow two-foot passage those who would meet the President must pass. When all was prepared the President smiled to Mr. Buchanan, who was standing near the corporal in charge of the artillerymen, and said that he was ready.
He seemed very jovial, and as he waited for the doors to open he rubbed his hands together, adjusted his Prince Albert coat, and laughingly chatted with Mr. Milburn, while Secretary Cortelyou gave a few last instructions to the officers as to the way the crowd was to be hurried through, so that as many as possible could meet the President.
As each passed he was critically scanned by the Secret Service men. His hands were watched, his face and actions noted.
Far down the line a man of unusual aspect appeared. He was short, heavy and dark, and beneath a heavy dark mustache were straight, bloodless lips. Under his black brows gleamed sharp, black eyes. He was picked out at once as a suspicious person, and when he reached Foster, the secret service man kept his hand on him until he reached the President and clasped his hand. Ireland was equally alert, and the slightest move on the part of this man, who is now supposed to have been an accomplice, and for whom a search is being made, would have been checked by the officers.
Immediately following this man was the assassin. He was a rather tall, boyish looking fellow, apparently twenty-five years old, and of German-American extraction. His smooth, rather pointed face would not indicate any sinister purpose.
The secret service men noted that about his right hand was wrapped a handkerchief, and as he carried the hand uplifted, as if supported by a sling under his coat, the officers thought his hand was injured, and especially since he extended his left hand across the right to shake hands with the President. It was noticed that the man in front of the assassin held back, apparently to shield the young man, so that it was necessary for Ireland to push him on.
Innocently facing the assassin, the President smiled as he extended his right hand to meet the left of the supposed injured man. As the youth extended his left hand, he, quick as a flash, as if trained by long practice, whipped out his right hand, which held the revolver, and before anyone knew what was happening two shots rang out, one following the other after the briefest space of time.
For a moment there was the hush of awful death. There was not a sound. The sonata died instantly. The people stopped and could not breathe. The next instant there was pandemonium. It was realized that the President had been shot.
Mr. McKinley drew his right hand quickly to his chest. He raised his head, and his eyes looked upward and rolled. He swerved a moment, reeled and fell in the arms of Secretary Cortelyou.
Catching himself for the briefest second the President, whose face had now the whiteness of death, looked at the assassin, as the officers and the soldiers bore him to the floor, and said feebly, “May God forgive him.”
The President was carried first one way, then a step in another direction. The excitement was so sudden and intense that for a minute no one knew what to do.
Finally some one said to carry him within the purple edge of the aisle and seat him on a chair. The bunting was in a solid piece, no one had time to produce a knife. A couple of men tore the benches aside and trampled the bunting down, while Mr. Milburn and Secretary Cortelyou half carried the President over the line into the passageway leading to the stage.
The President was able to walk a little, leaning heavily on his escort. In passing over the bunting his foot caught, and for a moment he stumbled. A reporter extricated the wounded man’s foot, and he was carried to a seat, where a half dozen men stood by and fanned him vigorously. Quick calls were sent for doctors and an ambulance.
While seated for a moment Secretary Cortelyou leaned over the President and asked: “Do you feel much pain?”
White and trembling, the President slipped his hand into the opening of his shirt front, near the heart, and said:
“This wound pains greatly.”
As the President withdrew his hand two fingers were covered with blood. He looked at them, his hand dropped to his side and he became faint. His head dropped heavily to his chest and those about him turned away.
During this pathetic scene, while tears were filling the eyes of those about him, who realized their powerlessness to help him, Minister Aspiroz, of Mexico, pushed through the little group and broke the faint into which the President had sunk by exclaiming dramatically in English:
“Oh, my God, Mr. President, are you shot?”
While the excited diplomat was being restrained from caressing the Executive and falling at his feet, the President replied, gasping after each word:
The President’s head fell backward and he almost fainted again. Mr. Milburn placed his hand back of the wounded man’s head for a support. This seemed to relieve the President, and after that he sat stoically in the chair, his legs spread out on the floor and his lips clinched firmly as if to fight determinedly against death, should it be coming. He was making the fight of a soldier, and more than one turned away and tremblingly said:
“He is certainly a soldier.”
While all this was passing the tragedy had not yet ended on the scene of the shooting. The shots had hardly been fired before Foster and Ireland were on top of the assassin. Ireland knocked the smoking weapon from the man’s hand and with his companion and a dozen Exposition police and artillerymen were upon the wretch. He was literally crushed to the floor.
While the President was being led away the artillerymen and guards cleared the building of those who had come to greet the Executive. To do this it was necessary to draw their bayonets and use force.
Foster reached under the crowd and by almost superhuman strength pulled the intending murderer from under the heap. Forcing the youth to the open, Foster clutched him by the throat with his left hand, and saying, “You murderer,” he struck him a vicious blow with his fist squarely in the face.
The blow was so powerful that the man was sent headlong through the guards and sprawling upon the floor. He had hardly touched the floor when he was again set upon, this time by the guards and soldiers. He was kicked repeatedly until Captain Damer rushed in and drew back the guards. Foster made another attempt to get at the assassin but was held back although he protested that he knew what he was doing.
One who stood near the captive declares that the would-be murderer cried:
“I am an anarchist! I did my duty!”
He was not given time to say another word, and it is doubtful if he would have had the power. He was as white as his victim, and was shaking from head to foot. He had not the power to beg to be saved from the lynchers.
Weak with the excitement, he was unable to stand on his feet, and he fell to the floor like a weak coward.
A half dozen guards, as many soldiers and several Secret Service men grabbed him as they would an offensive corpse. Several were at his feet and others at his head, but none to support his body. He was rapidly dragged over the floor, up a short flight of stairs and into a room back of the stage. There he was locked in with the soldiers, guards and detectives, most of whom drew their revolvers, ready to withstand any attempt which might be made by a mob.
With tremendous rapidity the news of the assassin’s assault spread through the 20,000 people who were outside the building. Their cries of grief could be heard inside, and the President heard and seemed to understand, though he spoke no word.
The electric ambulance from the Emergency Hospital quickly arrived with Drs. Zittell and Kennerson, who rushed in and were at the side of the President. His white vest, powder marked and bloody, had been opened, as well as the shirt. After seeing the location of the wound and learning that another bullet had entered the abdomen, they ordered in the ambulance stretcher, on which were placed a row of pillows. The stretcher was placed on the floor and the wounded President was lifted by Mr. Milburn, Mr. Cortelyou and the ambulance men, and laid gently on the pillows.
The President groaned slightly, as if in great pain, but recovered, pressed his lips firmly and resigned himself to the care of the grief stricken men around him. At least twenty men carried the stretcher up the three or four steps to the southwest door.
As it opened and the great crowd caught a glimpse of the wounded man on the stretcher a groan of grief went up. Men uncovered their heads, they looked at each other for sympathy, that they might have the strength to stand the crushing blow.
No man was weak who wept. It was the time for weeping. There was not the slightest cry for vengeance. As the bullet pierced body the [sic] President was being carried out through their midst the note was only of sorrow. Women were no more affected than men. They clung close to each other. It was a moment when every one felt that he needed help.
On the double quick the President was hurried to the Emergency Hospital, where a room had been hastily prepared for him. Messages had been sent to the city for physicians and surgeons. The first call was sent for Dr. Rixey, the family physician, who had left the grounds with Mrs. McKinley for the Milburn home. He was quick to arrive on an automobile with two trained nurses. They tore through the grounds at a terrific pace until the hospital was reached.
At six o’clock the President was put under influence of an anaesthetic and Dr. Parke began probing for the bullets. The first one was removed. It struck the sternum and glanced off, causing a slight flesh wound only. The second bullet perforated both walls of the stomach and has not yet been found. The bullet is thought to be in the stomach.
President McKinley was later placed in an automobile ambulance and taken to the home of President Milburn.
The man who shot the President said his name was Leon Czolgosz, and admitted that he was a Cleveland, O., Anarchist.