File No. 342.112Sm6/2.
Vice Consul Curtis to the Secretary of State .
Fort Erie , December 29, 1914 .
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report in reply to your telegram, dated Washington, December 28, 1914.
On Monday morning December 28, about 10 o’clock, Walter Smith of Arthur Street, Buffalo, and Charles Dorsch of Calumet Street, Buffalo, were shot while duck hunting by soldiers of the Canadian Militia. Smith was killed instantly while Dorsch was shot through the upper portion of his right lung.
These men had been shooting ducks in violation of the Canadian laws and at the time of happening they had decoys set in the river and had been shooting over these. They were situated on a ridge of ice that had formed about 200 yards from the shore line directly south of the foot of Garrison Road in this village.
From witnesses that I have examined it appears that these men were ordered to come ashore by Police Officer Delaney who intended arresting them for violation of the game laws. To make his command more emphatic he had summoned three of the soldiers from their quarters in the Town Hall with the intention of having them fire over the [Page 416] heads of the duck hunters and in this way frighten the men into surrendering. Several shots were fired with instructions not to hit the men. Instead of obeying the command to pull their boat up on the ice, they both started to row toward the American shore and had rowed 5 or 6 strokes when they both were hit by bullets fired from the guns of the soldiers.
Lying in the bottom of the boat they drifted down stream until almost in front of the Consulate where their boat was towed ashore by another fisherman. Seated in the Consulate, I noticed several running along the shore and went out to see what the trouble was. When the boat was landed I could see Smith had been killed instantly, a bullet entering directly between the eyes and passing out the back of the head. He had been seated in the bow seat of the boat and had fallen over backwards, his hands stretched out as if he had been grasping the oars. Dorsch was seated in the stern seat and had fallen forward on his side. He was groaning and bleeding from the mouth and nose. Dr. Douglas was on the scene immediately and we had him rushed over to the General Hospital. He was too badly hurt to make a statement. I questioned the three soldiers who had been implicated, immediately, as they were all present at the time the boat was landed. They all stated that they had no intention of hitting the men. They are all pretty badly frightened and it is my own opinion that there was no intent on their part to more than badly frighten the duck hunters by shooting as close as they possibly dared. Poor marksmanship on their part must be their accounting for the tragedy.
The boat at the time of landing contained 2 guns, one a pump gun and the other a double-barreled shot-gun. Several ducks and decoys as well as empty shells were in the bottom of the boat.
Coroner Dr. J. R. Mencke took charge of the body of Smith and after a preliminary inquest yesterday afternoon the body was turned over to his relatives and removed to Buffalo last evening. An inquest will be held by Coroner Mencke on Wednesday afternoon, December 30, in the Fort Erie Town Hall, at which I shall be present.
When I could get into communication with the General Hospital this afternoon I learned that Mr. Dorsch was resting comfortably and would recover. I shall endeavor to get a statement from him tomorrow and forward the same to the Department.
The three men who did the shooting are Corporal Kayo, of Midland, Private Macintosh of Kingston, and Private Kinsman of Gait, Ontario. These men have been placed under arrest and are being held prisoners in the Fort Erie Town Hall until an investigation is made.
I have [etc.]