The Shooting at the Colwood Hotel

In the Fall of 1904 a shooting incident at the Colwood Hotel with the subsequent trial caught the interest of Victoria. What follows is a transcription of the incident from the Daily Colonist.

Daily Colonist – August 9, 1904

Soldier Shot in Leg by Proprietor of the Hotel.
As the result of trouble at the Colwood hotel on Sunday evening a soldier named Flannagan received a gunshot wound in the thigh, and Percy D. Clark, the proprietor of the hostelry, is charges with inflicting the injury. The accused was arrested by Sergt. Murray, of the provincial police, and appeared before the magistrate yesterday morning. He was admitted to bail in the sum of five hundred dollars, with tow sureties of two hundred and fifty dollars each.
The circumstances of the row appear to be that a party of soldiers from Rodd Hill appeared at the Colwood hotel about 6 o’clock Sunday evening and desired admittance, probably desiring drink. Mr. Clark, the proprietor refused to let them in, having locked his premises when he heard they were coming. The soldiers then attempted to force an entrance, breaking the windows and making things decidedly interesting for some time. Mr. Clark, from inside maintained a defense which, for a short period, was quite effectual, but eventually numbers began to tell. Then he got his gun and one of the besiegers was wounded in the leg with a dose of shot. He was conveyed to Work Point where the garrison doctor and Surgeon Hart attended to his wound, which is not dangerous.
Clark claims he acted solely in self-defence, and it was not until the assailants had resorted to violence in breaking the windows and working damage to his property that he felt compelled to resort to a gun.
The soldiers who participated in the row probably will be charged with malicious damage to property. The case against Clark was remanded until tomorrow morning.

Colwood Hotel - BC Archives Photo

Daily Colonist – October 11, 12, & 13, 1904

Trial of Percy Clarke, Proprietor of the Colwood Hotel Commenced,

Evidence of the Soldiers as to the Circumstances of the Shooting.

Rex vs Clarke , wounding with intent to do serious bodily harm.

Mr. Justice Martin took his seat on the bench shortly after 11 o’clock and the grand jury, consisting of the following gentlemen, was sworn in: A. Stuart Robertson (foreman), W.J. Anderson, Thomas C. Fletcher, F.F. Hedges, Alfred Hugett, Samuel Johns, W.C. Ker, D.H. Macdowell, F.B. Pemberton, George A. Richardson, Bernard P. Schwengers, William Turpel, H.G. Waterson.

His Lordship, in addressing the grand jury said: “According to the present state of the docket your labor will be light. It may be that during the holding of the Court of Assize other matters may come up for your consideration, but all you have to deal with now is one bill of indictment which is before you — a charge of unlawfully wounding. This is an offence of a very plain character and it is unnecessary for me to expatiate upon it. A person wounding another must show that it was not intentional or that it was done in self-defense. It may be that the accused will be able to convince the petit jury — if it comes to that — that the wounding was justifiable.  But all you have to consider is whether there is enough evidence to satisfy you in sending the case to the petit jury to try. If after hearing two or three witnesses you are satisfied on that point you may discontinue your enquiry.  Briefly the charge is that the accused discharges a gun and wounded Richard Flannagan. The shooting appears to have originated in a quarrel at a hotel kept by the accused. It is possible that you may be called upon later to consider other bills, but if so you will be notified by Mr. Sheriff. After you have reported upon the bill now before you, you will be at liberty to carry out your other duties in relation to the public institutions of the city.

(The grand jury retired).

At 12:30 the grand jury returned a true bill against Peercy D. Clarke, for wounding with intent to do serious bodily harm.

Clarke surrendered his bail and on the charge being read to him by the sheriff, pleaded “not guilty”. Mr. Bradburn appeared for the prisoner.

The jury was then empanelled consisting of the following: Ruther Wilson (foreman), Allan S. Ashwell, F.I. Cochenour, J.t. Fairburn, H. Farrell, E.F. Geiger, William McFadden, T.W. McLaren, Charles Mitchell, James Richmond, A.E. Talbot and J.H. Yeo.

The court then adjourned until 2 o’clock. On resuming, Mr. Belyea opened the case for the crown by briefly outline the circumstances of the case. He then called his first witness, Dr. Hart.

DR. E.C. Hart testified that at 9 o’clock on the evening of August 7 he was called to the barracks, where he saw Falnnagan, who was wounded by a charge of shot of about the size of No. 4. The shot had entered the man’s leg, side and both hands, and two pellets had entered his head. The wounds had not been made more than two or three hours before he saw the injured man.

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradburn, the witness could not say whether the shot had taken effect while the man was running away. The shot took effect in the forward direction on the side. He could not have been shot from the front. He had been pretty well peppered in the thigh. When the witness saw the injured man it was noticeable that the latter had been drinking, but he was not drunk. The wounds caused by the shot were not dangerous.

Gr. Flannagan, R.G.A., testified that on August 7 he saw the accused, Clarke, at the Colwood Hotel. He was there about three-quarters of an hour. There was a row between the witness and the bartender. He then left with Gr. Seannell and went to the Oak Dell hotel. There he met Gr. O’Neill and others and had some glasses of beer. They then returned to the Colwood hotel — Seanell, O’Neill, Bowers and witness. At the hotel they knocked on the door. Somebody answered the door, which was slammed to. They stood on the verandah considering the situation when the first shot was fired from a window. He identified some photographs of the scene of the shooting. When the shot was fired the witness ran away down the road. Seannell ran away also. He could not say who fired the first shot. He stopped running about 40 or 50 yards down the road and turned around, and was shot in the side. He fell down and was taken to Rod Hill, and from there to the hospital at Work Point. He was in hospital for about ten days. Some clothing worn by the witness at the time he was shot, and liberally stained with blood were put into evidence. He could not say who had fired the shot.

Cross-examined, the witness said he had been in the service since February, 1898.. He had no good conduct badges. He formerly had a good conduct badge but he had since lost it. At the hotel witness and three others purchased and drank three bottles of beer. They also had two glasses in the bar. At Oak Dell hotel witness had a meal and two or three more glasses of beer. The two hotels were about two miles apart. Gr. McNeill bought a bottle of whiskey at the Oak Dell hotel. Witness did not drink any of it. There was a row in the bar of the Colwood. Witness threw his hat at the bartender, and when he went to get it back, the bartender struck him and he hit back. Then Seannell and the bartender began to fight. He did not hear Seannell use disgusting language to Mrs. Clarke. The story told by Mr. Price, another hotelkeeper, that he was asked to give Seannell a ride and that the latter was drunk and had to be lifted into the buggy was not true. Seannell had a lift part way between the Oak Dell and Colwood hotels, but he was not drunk. Seannell and witnesses did not return to the colwood hotel with the idea of continuing the row that had taken place earlier in the afternoon. The first shot was fired a few seconds after the door was shut in Seanell’s face. Nothing happened in that interval. Witness did not try to get into the hotel through a window and did not try to break in one of the doors. it was not true that witness had been drunk that afternoon and for that reason was unable to remember what had occurred.?

Gr. John Bowers, R.G.A., said that on August 7 he and Gr. McNeill called at the Colwood hotel. Later Gr. Flannagan, Gr, Seannell and two others came in and witness and McNeill left a few minutes afterwards. There was no trouble in the bar while witness was there. He believed McNeill got a bottle of whiskey, but he did not see anyone drink from it. He heard afterwards that the bottle was broken. He saw Sennell get into Mr. Price’s buggy. Seanell was standing with the others and did not have to be helped into the buggy. He and his friends followed the buggy until it stopped at the Colwood hotel. He heard a shot fired as he approached the hotel. He called to Flannagan and Seannell that they had better get along or someone would be shot. They ran away and witness followed at a quick walk.  Witness was the first to reach Flannagan after he was shot. Altogether about ten shots were fired, two just after Flannagan fell. Witness saw the accused, Clarke, leaning out of an upper window of the hotel with a gun in his hand. He did not see the shots fired. A few minutes later a buggy came along and took Flannagan to the Rod Hill camp.

Cross-examined, witness said he had been seven years in the service and had one good conduct badge. On August 7 witness had two glasses of beer at the canteen, two at Colwood and two more at Oak Dell hotel, before Flannagan and Seannell arrived at about 5 o’c;ock. They all had supper together; witness had one drink during the meal. He was drunk and there had been no row at the hotel just prior to the shooting.

Gr. McNeill testified he bought a bottle of whisky at the Oak Dell hotel. He put it at the end of the shed and it disappeared. In other particulars he corroborated the evidence of previous witnesses. He admitted that he was under the influence of liquor that afternoon. He believed about seven shots in all were fired.

The court adjourned shortly before 6 o’clock to 10:30 this morning.


Case for the Defence Opened in Rex vs Clarke.?

Considerable progress was made in the hearing of the charge against Clarke or shooting with intent. There are two more witnesses for the defence to be examined and the case will probably go to the jury prior to the rising of the court this evening.

Sergt. Murray, of the provincial police, was the first witness called yesterday. The witness testified that he went out to the Colwood hotel on the night of August 7 in response to a telephone message that the accused had shot a man there, and arrested Clarke at 10 p.m. Clarke handed him a gun and stated that it was the weapon he had used. The gun was produced.

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradburn, Segt. Murray said that he understood the telephone message had come from Clarke. The lower panes of two of the windows were broken and he also noticed that one of the upper panes had a hole through it.

C.W. Minor testified that he was in the vicinity of the Colwood hotel between 6 and 7 o’clock on the evening of August 7. He was accompanied by Chas. Stewart. They were driving in a buggy and were stopped by some soldiers. One soldier was lying on the ground and the others said he had been shot. The wounded man was lifted into the buggy. He was bleeding a good deal from the wounds on his hands, head and other places, and ws in a dazed condition. When witness stopped to pick the man up, the accused, who was standing on the verandah of the hotel with a gun in his hands called to the witness to come back. The wounded man was lying at a distance of between 50 and 75 yards from the hotel door. Witness had considerable experience in handling guns. The gun produced had one cylinder  and one choke barrel. At 30 yards distance the shot from the cylinder barrel would spread over a circle about 30 inches in diameter, and from the choke bore the shot would spread over the same diameter at 40 yards. Judging from the wounds on the injured man, he was shot at a distance of from 30 to 40 yards, according to which barrel had been used. When the wounded man was placed in the buggy stood on the axle and the other two walked beside it. The man on the axle seemed to be sober. Witness returned to the hotel and saw the accused, who said he wanted to send a message to the police.

Cross-examined, the witness said that he did not apprehend any danger when he returned to the hotel.  He saw some broken windows and a dent in the hall door. He would not say that if a gun loaded with No. 4 shot was fired at a man at a distance of 30 yards the man would be killed. He did not think the charge would make a big hole in the man, but it might hurt him badly.

Chas. Stewart, who was with the last witness on the occasion in question, corroborated the latter’s evidence.?

Bomb. Harrison, R.G.A., testified that he was at the Colwood hotel at 3 o’clock on August 7. The accused, the bartender and two soldiers were there and Flannagan and SEannell arrived shortly after. A disturbance began about 3 o’clock. Flannagan was talking about something that had occurred and the bartender called him a liar. Flannagan threw his hat at the bartender and a row ensued, in which Flannagan, the bartender, Seannell and Clarke participated. Mrs. Clarke entered with a hatchet and attacked Flannagan with a stick. Witness stopped the fight and induced Flannagan and Seannell to leave the place. Some time after this Clarke presented a revolver at Gr. Reilly and said he would shoot the first soldier he met. Reilly said, “Put that down and don;t be a fool.” Clarke then put the revolver into his pocket. There were a couple of scratches on the barroom door made during the row.?

Cross-examined by Mr. Bradburn, the witness said that he knew of no reason for Clarke pointing the revolver at REilly, with whom he was on friendly terms. Clarke was greatly excited at the time. Witness did not consider the row in the bar a serious affair. Mrs. Clarke was very frightened. After the row the bartender went for a picket from the camp at Rod Hill, but when the picket arrived the place was quiet and the peace returned.

Gr. Reilly corroborated the previous witness, although he did not see the row in the barroom. He said that Clarke had several glasses of rum.

Mr. Bradburn wanted the prosecution to call Seannell to the witness stand but Mr. Belyea declined, pointing out that Sseannell had been called by the defence at the preliminary hearing. This closed the case for the Crown and an adjournment was taken for lunch.

The hearing of the charge against Percy G. Clarke was then proceeded with. Mr. Bradburn, in opening for the defence, said that the prisoner was charged with the commission of a very serious offence. He was charged with wounding a man, Flannagan, with the intent to do him serious bodily harm. This was an offence for which a very severe punishment could be meted out. Clarke would not deny that he had fired a gun at Flannagan and wounded him. Clarke had acted in every way as a man innocent of any criminal intent. On the 7th of August last Clarke was at his place of business. Two men, Flannagan and Seannell, came to the hotel, and in consequence of some trouble between them and the bartender, a row started. The bartender was getting the worst of it, when Clarke heard the noise and went to his assistance.  A serious fight resulted, during which Clarke sustained a considerable injury.  The soldier went out or were put out, and went away. Later in the day they returned accompanied by two more men of the regiment, and endeavored to force their way into the hotel, after being refused admittance. The evidence would show that it was after the men had tried to force their way through the door and the windows that Clarke got his gun and warned the men that if they did not desist from their attack on the house he would fire at them. One of the soldiers, Bowers, he believed,then endeavored to force his way through the barroom window and Clarke fired over his head. The men then withdrew to some distance and began throwing stones and breaking other windows. Clarke again warned the men to desist, and then Flannagan picked up a stone and approached the hotel, he fired at his feet, not intending to injure him seriously, but rather to stop his advance. Mr. Bradburn concluded by saying that he was sure  that when the jury looked dispassionately at the case they would decide that Clarke was justified in firing.

Percy G. Clarke, the accused, was the first witness called for the defence. He testified that he had lived eight years on the island and had been lessee of the hotel for 18 months. On the afternoon of August 7, Flannagan, Seannell and two others came to the hotel. He sold them four bottles of beer, which they took out to the verandah to drink. They were making such a noise out there that he asked them to come inside, which they did. They went into the bar and witness went into another room. While there he heard a noise in the bar and went to see what was the matter. He found the bartender, Sam Hatherly, up against the door and the two men attacking him. Witness went to his assistance and dragged the nearest man off him by his collar and hit him. Then a rough and tumble fight ensued, in which witness was severely hurt. His head was cut, he was badly kicked in the ribs and his teeth were injured to such an extent that he could not eat for some time after. The two soldiers went away, but he was afraid they might return and so dent Hatherly to Rod Hill to fetch a picket. About 6 o’clock, while witness was sitting at an open window, Mr. Price drove up in buggy and called to witness to come and help a man out of the buggy. Witness went to the buggy but when he saw that the man lying in it was Seannell, he refused to help him out, and said he did not want him at the palace because he was a man who had been fighting there. He retired to the house and locked the door. The other soldiers, Flannagan, Bower, and McNeill, then came up and wanted to get a drink. This was refused. The men then invited him to come out and have his head punched. Witness and his wife then shut the other door and the windows. The men tried to force open the barroom door, and on failing to do so, they kicked at the barroom windows and broke them. Two of the men, Fannagna and Seannell, were trying to climb through one of the windows, but witness and bartender attacked them and drove them back. Then he saw Bowers break in another window and put his head through. He got his gun, which was behind the bar, and told Bowers to go away or he would shoot. Bowers did not go, so witness fired over his head, intending to frighten him away. Bowers then went. When the men began throwing stones at the windows witness went onto the verandah and told them if they did not desist from attacking the house he would be compelled to fire upon them. When Flannagan picked up a stone and advanced towards the house, witness fired from the barroom at his feet and the man fell. He was afraid that if the soldiers had got into the house he would have been killed.

Mrs. Clarke corroborated the evidence of her husband. She stated that she was very much frightened and believed that the soldiers would have killed them all had they got into the house.

W.G. Henley said that he was passing the hotel at 7 o’clock on the evening of August 7, and Clarke called to him and gave him a message to the provincial police telling them he had shot a man. He noticed that the windows were broke,

The court adjourned at 5:30 p.m. until this morning.


Evidence Concluded in the Colwood Shooting Case Yesterday Afternoon.
The Prisoner Discharged by the Jury After a Brief Consultation.

The case of Rex vs Clarke was resumed and concluded at the Assize Court yesterday, the jury finding the prisoner not guilty. The verdict was just what seemed to have been expected, and as Clarke left the dock a free man, his friends awarmed around to congratulate him. There was no lack of interest in the proceedings, as was manifest by the crowded condition of the court room.

There were two witnesses examined yesterday morning. The first was Henry Price, of Parson’s Bridge, who deposed that on the date of the shooting he was driving down the Metchosin road, and when about half a mile from Colwood, he met four soldiers, one of whom was lying down on the road. This man, who appeared to be very drunk, he took into the buggy, and when ten or twelve yards from the hotel the man jumped up and demanded more drink. The other soldiers then came running up and one of them tried to push the barroom door open, while another struck the door with a stick. They also attempted to get in through a window. Witness called them not to break into the house. He heard a shot fired. He saw a bottle with the soldiers when he first saw them on the road. Clarke was perfectly sober and while the soldiers had evidently been drinking, they appeared able to navigate.?

Charles Smith deposed that he was returning from Sooke on the evening in question, and went into Clarke’s hotel. Several soldiers came in and one of them threw a hat at the bartender while a couple of others jumped upon him. Witness tried to make peace, but the soldiers pulled the bartender’s shirt from his back and kicked him about the floor. He heard the soldiers use very unseemly language towards Mrs. Clarke.

This concluded the evidence, and Mr. Bradburn addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner. There had evidently, he said, been a serious row at the house of Clarke on the evening of 7th of August, and all because Clarke would not supply a lot of drunken soldiers with more drink. The evidence went to show that the accused had every reason to apprehend grievous harm to himself, his wife, family or household and was therefore justified in using his gun. He contended that under all the circumstances of the case his client was entitled to a verdict of not guilty. He had merely done what any one would do under the circumstances.

Mr. Belyea addressed the jury for the prosecution, holding there was nothing to warrant the use of firearms in the case.?

Mr. Justice Martin charges the jury at considerable length, reviewing the evidence in detail, and concluded by saying that if the jury had any reasonable doubt as to the guilty intent of the accused they should give him the benefit of the doubt. They might also bring in a verdict finding him guilty of a less serious charge than that preferred against him — assault, for instance.

The jury retired to consider their verdict and after an absence of thirty-five minutes found the prisoner not guilty. Clarke was then discharged.