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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, July 7, 1864



About half-past two o'clock yesterday morning, a volunteer soldier named John Barrett shot and killed an ex cab driver named John McGowan, in a cellar saloon on the corner of Clay and Kearny streets. The explanation of the matter, as talked on the street, is, that on the night of the 3d or 4th, the soldier was put out of the saloon, by the keeper of it, and his brother soldiers jeered him about it until it is supposed he finally concluded to arm himself and go back on the night of the 5th, to "get even." It does not appear in the evidence, however, that he attempted to quarrel with the landlord at all. The soldier says he got into trouble with McGown, who "went back," as if for a pistol and he then shot him. At the inquest held by Coroner Sheldon last night, the saloon-keeper, John A. Wyman, testified that the solder was in the saloon between eleven and twelve o'clock in the evening, and he spoke with him. The soldier and McGown drank together. Both treated. Also a printer, named David Hunter. These men went out, and returned after an hour or an hour and a half, sat down and had more drinks. Hunter got up and went to talking and skylarking with a small German. McGowan said, "Let's take a drink," and pushed Hunter toward the bar. The soldier jumped and said, "I have seen enough of that," and drew his pistol and instantly fired at McGowan, the ball entering the floor in consequence of the saloon-keeper's partner catching his arm. McGowan ran behind the counter, and Barrett fired again, the ball passing through the counter, and McGowan shouting, "For God's sake don't shoot!" McGowan retreated toward the far end of the counter, and Barrett followed the direction with his pistol until it came in range of the saloon-keeper, when the latter jumped on the counter, and the pistol went off. The saloon-keeper ran toward the door, and Barrett fired again over the counter. The saloon keeper went and got officer Douglas, and, as they were leaving the City Hall, they met the soldier, accompanied by Hunter, and Captain Douglas locked Barrett up. Witness says he returned to the saloon with the officer, and found McGowan sitting against the wall, with a bullet hole through his forehead. He further said that before the shooting there had been no words between Barrett and McGowan; neither did McGowan attempt to provoke a difficulty. He made no resistance, and only tried to get out of the way. McGowan was a little under the influence of liquor, but the soldier did not appear to be so. Witness had not seen Barrett since last Sunday night, when he ordered him out of the house. Barrett came back afterwards with other soldiers and wanted to whip everybody in the house. Witness' partner went after officer Conway at that time. Several other witnesses were examined, but their testimony differed in no material point from the above. They all agreed that Barrett's first three shots did no damage, and the fourth passed through McGowan's skull and killed him. Capt. Douglas testified that he found one bullet hole in the floor of the saloon, one through the bar, and one through the partition, which passed through and struck the Clay street wall; (the fourth killed McGowan); and the weapon the prisoner held in his hand when he gave himself up, was a new patent Colt's six-shooter, with two chambers still loaded. Witness went after Dr. Boyce and another physician, and the former arrived a few minutes before McGowan died. Witness also sent for the Coroner, and remained until the body was removed.

Coroner Sheldon said he visited the prisoner, who confessed that he shot deceased, and explained the circumstances of the case. He held a post-mortem examination of McGowan's body, and found that the ball had entered just at the edge of the hair, about the centre of the forehead, and lodged at the base and in the substance of the brain, behind the right ear. He exhibited the ball, which was much flattened, and also the pistol, which bore Barrett's name on the sheath. The case was submitted to the jury without waiting for the witness Hunter, who could not be found. The verdict returned was that deceased, a native of New York City, aged about thirty years, and named James McGowan, came to his death by a pistol-short fired by John Barrett, on the morning of the 6th of July.

[transcribed from microfilm, p. 3.]

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