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The Arnold-Simpson Affair

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     The events that happened are vividly brought out in the Coroner’s Inquest upon Arnold’s murder as published in the May 1, 1908 Inyo Independent

The following is the testimony of a few of the principal witnesses that were present at the time Joe Simpson killed James Arnold at Skidoo:

The Jury being duly sworn in upon the request of the Coroner, they went into an adjoining room to view the body of James Arnold deceased, and to identify the corpse.
Coroner Thisse addressing the Jurymen: Do you all recognize him?
Jurymen: Yes.
Coroner: Who is it?
Jurymen: James Arnold.
Coroner: Ralph E. Dobbs will please take the witness chair.
Ralph E. Dobbs wan [sic] then duly sworn.
Coroner: Will you please tell the Jury what you saw and heard in connection with the shooting of James Arnold on the 19th of April in the Skidoo Trading Company's store.
Dobbs: To the best of my remembrance, I was working in th [sic] bank, when Joe Simpson came walking in after dinner. As far as I could tell, he was feeling good so paid no attention to him. He walked toward the back of the store and I knew nothing further until I heard a pistol shot, and saw James Arnold fall and as near as I can remember I heard Mr. Arnold say, "Don't shoot again. You've got me now." As I jumped to the side of my door I saw Joe Simpson turn around and cover me with his gun. Walking toward me, we conversed for a few moments and then he turned around and walked out of the store. I looked over to where Mr. Arnold had fallen and it seemed to me he had tried to crawl under the counter, but I found he had crawled down into the basement.
Coroner: Did you see Simpson with the gun in his hand?
Dobbs: I did.
Coroner: You are sure that Joe Simpson fired the shot at James Arnold?
Dobbs: I am.
Coroner: Mr. Dobbs, you are excused.
Coroner: E.H. Tracy you will please take the witness chair.
E.H. Tracy was then duly sworn.
Coroner: Mr. Tracy, you please tell the Jury what you know about the shooting of James Arnold.
Tracy: I was standing at the Bank counter taking down one of tne [sic] signs, when I saw Joe Simpson coming into the store. I paid no attention to him. He said, "Hello Tray, what are you doing here?" I said, "Holding up the Bank." Then he addressed James Arnold and said, "Jim, what have you got against me?" Arnold replied, "Joe, I have nothing against you." Joe then said, "You have. Your time has come. You've got to die." With that, I turned around and noticed as James Arnold took two steps backward, Joe came forward, raised his gun and fired. I thought he was shot through the heart, for Arnold fell and lay there. Arnold then spoke and said, "For Christ's sake don't shoot me again." I went out, not knowing how.
Coroner: You saw Simpson fire the shot?
Tracy: I did.
Coroner: Do any of the Jurymen wish to ask the witness any questions?
Follansbee: After Joe shot Arnold, did he leave him?
Tracy: No; he stood over him until Dobbs drew his attention.
Coroner: Any further questions.
Coroner: That is all Mr. Tracy.
Coroner: Ben Epstein, will you please relate to the Jury what you know about the killing of James Arnold.
Epstein: About two o'clock yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in front of Fluger's saloon with Mr. Fluger and Dr. Macdonald, when I saw Joe Simpson cross the street and go into the store. Fluger made the remark, "There goes Joe into the store with a gun in his pocket." Pretty soon, I heard Simpson say, "Jim, what have you got against me?" Arnold replied, "Nothing." I did not hear what else was said, but when I heard a shot, I ran over to the door and saw James Arnold's body lying on the floor and Joe Simpson standing with a gun over him. I heard Arnold say, "For God's sake, don't shoot again." I then ran over to Fluger's saloon to get a gun and not finding one there I ran down to the Doctor's office. When I came back, Joe was coming out of the store. Gordon McBain came along and then I saw the Constable right behind them and the three passed into the restaurant. When I got into the restaurant the three of them were in a corner. The Constable had hold of Joe Simpson's wrist, but the three shots fired by Joe in trying to free himself went into the floor. I took the gun away from Joe and later gave it to the Constable.
Coroner: You had the gun in your hand?
Epstein: Yes.
Coroner: Is that the gun (showing gun marked Exhibit A)
Epstein: Yes, sir.
Coroner: Any of the Jurymen wish to ask any questions?
Gavelstad: How many shots were fired in the restaurant?
Epstein: Three, I believe.
Coroner: Any further questions?
Coroner: That will be all, Mr. Epstein.
Coroner: Constable Henry Sellers, where you when this shooting occurred?
Sellers: I was sitting reading a paper in Jack Shehey's saloon when I heard a pistol shot. I got up immediately and ran over toward the store and just as I was stepping in the door I saw the deceased laying on the floor and Simpson put the gun on me, saying, "Do you want anything?" I then ran back to Shehey's saloon and tried to get a shot gun. I could not get the shells into the barrel of Shehey's shot gun, but I got a six shooter from under the bar. When I got on the outside of the saloon, Gordon McBain was with Joe Simpson and they passed on into the restaurant. I went after them and the three of us struggled. I held Joe's gun hand by the wrist and told Gordon several times to get away. Gordon kept on interfering to get between Joe and I, so I took my gun and placing it against his face told him if he did not get away I would kill him. Epstein then took the gun away from Joe and I threw him on the floor and told Epstein to get the hand-cuffs on him.
Coroner: You say Gordon McBain interfered when you tried to arrest Simpson?
Sellers: Yes, I would have had to kill both of them if that gun had not been held by me.
Swinnerton (Juryman): Henry, do you think Gordon tried to help you to arrest Simpson?
Sellers: I don't know.
Swinnerton: Did Gordon have a hold of Joe?
?: We all struggled together. [Note: no name given before comment in paper]
Swinnerton: Did he (Gordon) hinder you in making the arrest?
Sellers: Yes, he was in the way and would not get away when I told him to. I had to threaten to kill him.
Swinnerton: Did Gordon lay his hands on you or Simpson?
Sellers: I could not say.
Swinnerton: Did he get between you and Joe?
Sellers: Yes.
Swinnerton: You could have arrested him yourself if he (Gordon) had not been there?
Sellers: Yes.
Coroner: Joe did some shooting in the restaurant while you were there trying to place him under arrest?
Sellers: He shot his gun off three times and the bullets went into the floor.
Coroner: Was Simpson's other hand free?
Sellers: Yes.
Coroner: Did he aim at any one?
Sellers: He tried to shoot me. While holding his wrist, I tried to keep him from shooting me in the stomach. I did not want to get hurt.
Swinnerton: Did Gordon protect him while crossing the street?
Sellers: It looked that way to me.
Swinnerton: And while you were trying to place Joe under arrest, did it look like he (Gordon) was trying to protect him?
Sellers: Yes. He was in the way.
Swinnerton: He obeyed you when you threatened to shoot him?
Sellers: Yes. Only when I put the gun in his face and he kept interfering with the prisoner after he was under arrest.
Swinnerton: In what way did he interfere?
Sellers: He (Gordon) came around and wanted to buy drinks for him. He hallooed when I took Joe to the guard house and came around this morning and tried to see him.
Shackett (Juryman): Did Joe admit to you that he did the killing?
Sellers: He admitted to his partner that he did the killing.
Shackett: Did you hear Joe make this remark about killing him?
Sellers: Yes; I heard him tell his partner that Jim had kicked him and that he could not stand for that.
Swinnerton: Did you hear him say that he was a Bohemian; a hero, and a true blue?
Sellers: Yes. He was trying to be a hero.
Swinnerton: Did you hear him make the remark that he had a lot of fun doing it?
Sellers: No; I did not hear that. I heard Fred Oaks telling Joe what a terrible thing he had done and that if Arnold had a gun he would not have cared.
Coroner: Who was present in the saloon when this conversation took place?
Sellers: Tracy, Jack Shehey and a fellow named Sharp.
Coroner: Any further questions to be asked the witness?
Coroner: That is all Mr. Sellers.
Coroner: Jack Shehey will please take the witness chair.
Jack Shehey was then duly sworn.
Coroner: Tell the Jury what you heard and saw.
Shehey: Fred Oaks came into my place and told Joe what an awful thing he had done, Joe replied, "Yes Fred, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Just look at the fun I had doing it." and [sic] then he would laugh. Oaks said, "Joe, the man can't get well." Joe replied, "I am glad of it." He said that at least half a dozen times.
Coroner: Who else was there at the time of this conversation?
Shehey: Henry Sellers and Sharp.
Coroner: Any further questions?
Coroner: That will be all.