Historical Details

Gunn Shot Down in Lusk

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 01/21/1887

Constable Chas. S. Gunn Shot down Without a Minute's Warning by Bill McCoy

The Murderer Escapes at Night

Last Saturday morning at about nine o'clock the citizens of Lusk were horrified to learn that Bill McCoy had shot and killed Chas. S. Gunn.

It appears from the testimony at the examination before Esq. Kingman, that some difficulty had arisen between McCoy and Mr. Waters at the dance the night before and Gunn told Waters he would stand by him. In the morning McCoy entered Waters' saloon and was standing at the bar when Mr. Gunn happened to walk in. McCoy stepped toward Gunn and said: "Charley are you heeled?" and immediately fired, the ball passing entirely through Gunn's body in the region of the abdomen. Gunn fell forward on his hands and knees, his six-shooter dropping from his breast to the floor. He picked it up and commenced to raise slowly to his feet, when McCoy placed his six-shooter near Gunn's temple and fired the second shot. The ball passed entirely through his head, lodging under the skin at the rear. McCoy then went out, ran to the rear of Hogle & McCoy's saloon, jumped on a horse and started north-east, waving his six-shooter above his head. Deputy Sheriff Owens was sick, but immediately jumped up and he and John Steffen and one or two others opened fire on the murderer. Out near the jail the horse fell and McCoy was unable to catch him when he got to his feet again. Owens commanded him to "throw up," which he did. He was taken before Esq. Kingman, examined and committed. Several witnesses being also bound over under $200 bail to appear at the next term of district court. The jail being still incomplete, there was no alternative left but to guard the prisoner. Mr. Owens stayed up until midnight, when he retired, having been sick ever since his return from Cheyenne. He left six men to guard the prisoner, and had him handcuffed and shackles riveted to his ankles. Owens returned again at 1:15 and found the prisoner asleep. He examined everything in the room to discover if a file was hidden anywhere, but finding none, he retired again after seeing that the shackles were secure. He was awakened at 3:30 and on going to the room where the prisoner had been confined, found the window - which had been securely nailed down - raised, and McCoy gone. Between the two visits it had snowed and blowed very hard and no track was left to tell which way the prisoner had gone. The horse he had first started with was gone.

On Friday Sheriff Sharpless arrived, accompanied by deputies Brown, Fisher, Julian and Stable, and Coroner Chaffin and Prosecuting Attorney Stoil reached here the following day. Two of the guards, Mr. Jester and Mr. Phenix, were arrested on the charge of aiding and abetting the prisoner's escape and bound over to district court under $500 bonds each. F. S. Lusk going on the first bond and A. G. Lowry and Peter Sweeney on the latter.

The inquest was held on Wednesday afternoon, and a verdict was brought in to the effect that deceased came to his death from a pistol shot in the hands of Wm. McCoy.

CHAS. S. GUNN was about 32 years old, tall well built and every inch a man. He had been our very efficient deputy sheriff for several months up to about a week before the shooting. He was universally esteemed as a brave good man, and his untimely death has covered the entire community with gloom. At our late election he was elected constable, by a majority of 274 to 47. He was not addicted to a single bad habit, and Lusk has lost one of its best citizens. He owned a ranch three miles up the creek, and in partnership with Mr. Johnson, had quite a herd of cattle.

The remains were buried Monday afternoon, services being conducted by Mr. Brooks. More than 150 of our best citizens participated in the last sad rites, rendered doubly distressing by the terrible circumstances. The coffin was lined with tin and on the cover was a plate inscribed

Died Jan. 15, 1887,
Aged 32 years.

Mrs. Howe made a beautiful wreath of flowers for the top of the coffin, and a bouquet which was placed in the hands of the deceased.

We would not do the deceased justice without mentioning his great love for little children. There was not an urchin in town but knew and loved him, and not the least sincere of his many mourners were those little ones he had so often carried in his manly arms, and all of whom had a warm place in his affections. He had many of the attributes possessed in perfection only by Him who said: "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Territory of Wyoming,
Executive Department,
Cheyenne, Jan. 17, 1887

WHEREAS representation has been made to me by the prosecuting attorney of Laramie county that William McCoy did on or about the 15th day of January, 1887, at the town of Lusk, Laramie county Wyoming Territory, commit a murder, his victim being - Charles S. Gunn; and

WHEREAS, said prosecuting attorney has, in accordance with law, made application to me to offer a reward in the sum of $500 for the apprehension and delivery of the said William McCoy, described as follows, to wit: By occupation was a cowboy; weighing about 150 pounds; his age about 24 years; height about five feet nine inches, complexion light. When last seen was wearing dark colored clothing, and he has a scar on the back of his neck, said scar having been made by the kick of a horse.

Now therefore, in pursuance of the authority vested in me by law, I hereby offer a reward of ($500) five hundred dollars for the arrest and delivery into the custody of the sheriff of Laramie county, Wyoming, of said William McCoy.

The reward will be paid out of the county treasury of said county, upon the certificate of the executive that the same has been earned.

E.S.N. Margan,
Acting Governor Wyoming Territory.

February 11, 1887
The Lusk Herald
Memorial Service

On Sunday evening, Feb. 20, Rev. Bross will deliver a memorial address in memory of Chas. S. Gunn. Appropriate music will also be rendered, and everything possible will be done to show the high esteem in which Mr. Gunn's memory is cherished. Chriswell' hall has been secured for the occasion.

Information about the trial and subsequent future of Bill McCoy may be found in the historical article Gunn's Murderer, Bill McCoy

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Related/Linked Records

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Property 206 S Main View Record
Business Bars, Saloons, Liquor: Walker & Waters View Record