San Francisco History


Thomas Lobb, an insane carpenter, opened fire from his room in the United States Hotel yesterday on a crowd collected below it, wounding ten people.  After holding the police at bay for an hour he blew out his own brains.  Policeman Hiram Hutchings displayed great bravery in a daring attempt to take the maniac alive.  Policeman Patrick Kissane by a miracle escaped being killed.

Daring Policeman Climbs Out on Fire Escape
and Faces Madman at Close Quarters.

Frenzied Man Holds Squad at Bay for an Hour,
Firing From Behind Matress Barricade.


Thomas LOBB . . . San Diego

C.T. CHEVALIER . . . 123 Eddy Street
VINCNET ROUMANTE . . . 717 Larkin Street
JAMES LARIBEE . . . 923 1/2 Howard Street
PATRICK KISSANE . . . 23 Oak Grove Avenue
W.D. COFFMAN . . .914 Howard Street
W. JONES . . . 1621 Clay Street
EMIL ROBERTS . . . 1517 Broderick Street
WONG QUNG WO . . . 116 Eddy Street
GEORGE H. DE LANGTON . . . 320 McAllister Street

Thomas Lobb
Thomas Lobb
From a fifth-story window in front of the United States Hotel, 126 Eddy street, yesterday morning, Thomas Lobb, and insane carpenter, discharged both barrels of a shotgun into a crowd he had collected on the street below by hurling furniture from the window and wounded seven people.  As the throng fled, Lobb fired another charge of No. 4 shot at it, wounding another.  He fired at a street car that stopped under the window and shattered some of the windows, but none of the passengers were injured.  An inquisitive Chinaman that stepped out of the place across the street was fired at with a pistol and wounded in the hand.  One policeman was shot in the cheek while efforts were being made to force the door of Lobb's room, which he had bolted and barricaded with a mattress.  Into this mattress sank fourteen bullets the officers had fired through the door.  Ten people were wounded altogether.  One policeman performed an unusual act of bravery in climing down a fire escape to reach Lobb's window.  The maniac wound up the thrilling event by blowing off the top of his own head when he saw the officer at the window.  It was found by the crowd that assembled after the maniac's death that he had literally shot money as well as leaden death at the crowd, for he had used greenbacks in loading the shells used by him.

These are some of the most important features of one of the most exciting tragedies that has ever racked the nerves of the police or startled the public of this city.  That the maniac did not succeed in bagging a policeman is marvelous.

For nearly an hour after his attempt at wholesale murder the maniac held a squad of policement in command of Captain Duke and Lieutenant Green at bay.  After the first shots from the maniac's shotgun had crashed into the crowd on Eddy street, people ran for cover.  Just as Policeman Hiram Hutchings, who fearlessly descended a fire escape just outside the window, covered him with a revolver, the maniac placed the muzzle of the shotgun against his temple and pulled the trigger.  The top of his head was completely torn away.

Ten Receive Wounds,
One Losing an Eye

Following is a list of the injured:

C.T. Chevalier, 123 Eddy street, shot through the right eyeball and will lose the sight in one eye;
Vincent Roumante, 717 Larkin street, shot in the face, shoulders and head;
James Laribee, 923 1/2 Howard street, shot in the eye, chin, cheek, arm, shoulder and hip;
Policeman Patrick Kissane, 28 Oak Grove avenue, shot in cheek;
W.D. Coffman, 914 Howard street, shot in cheek, nose and forehead;
W. Jones, 1621 Clay street, shot in face and head;
Emil Roberts, 1517 Broderick street, shot in hand;
George H. de Langton, 320 McAllister street, shot in the cheeck, head and arm;
David Farrell, shot in head;
Wong Aung Wo, 116 Eddy street, shot in the hand.

With the usual cunning of the maniac, Lobb had bolted the door before he started the fusillade and had barricaded it with the mattress.  Fourteen shots were fired into the door by Policemen Patrick Kissane and J.D. O'Connor, but the bullets were stopped by the mattress.  Kissane pulled a sofa up to the door and tried to get a pot shot at the maniac.  The instant the policeman's head showed above the transom Lobb fired.  A charge of the duckshot crashed through Kissane's helmet, tearing it to pieces, and one pellet lodged in his cheek.
Policeman H. S. Hutchings
Policeman Hiram Hutchings
Under orders from Captain Duke, Policeman Hutchings began to descend the fire escape.  He was ordered to fire a shot into the air when he had reached a point outside the maniac's window.  Holding his pistol in one hand, the fearless policeman made the descent.  He expected that Lobb would see him at any instant and turn the shotgun upon him.

Hutchings Braves
Maniac's Weapon
When he was just outside the window Hutchings fired a shot in the air and the maniac peeped at him from behind the lace curtain.

The squad in the corridor began to batter at the door.  Suddenly the report of the shotgun rang out again.  A piece of red dripping human skull flew through the window and, Hutchings knowing well what had happened, leaped into the room.

The men outsie the door hearing the report, thought Hutchings had been killed and began to fire through the door.  "Stop firing, this is Hutchings," shouted the policeman, and opened the door.

One of Lobb's maddest freaks was using greenbacks as wads.  In all he must have shot nearly $400 in currency at the crowd.  About $250 of this was accounted for by the police and Coroner's deputies.  Shortly after the insane man ended his life crowds gathered in front of the hotel and collected shreds of greenbacks from the street.

Lobb went to the hotel Tuesday night and hired the room.  It is thought, for the purpose of doing wholesale murder.  He brought with him a twelve-bore shotgun, over fifty cartridges and a 32-caliber pistol.

Lobb and Hutchings
Thomas Lobb and Policeman Hutchings

Begins Shooting at
Crowd From Window

Emile Carpenter, the bellboy who showed him to the room, noticed that he was acting rather queerly.  When asked whether he was satisfied with the room he looked under the bed and inspected the place carefully.  Then he laid a package of strawberry tarts he had brought with him upon the bureau and paid for the room.

Shortly after 7 o'clock in the morning Lobb went to the window and hurled a chair down to the street.  A wash basin and a marble-topped table crashed after it.  Another chair caught in a skein of telegraph wires.

A crowd congregated in front of the hotel to watch the antics of the madman.  Lobb stepped aside from the window.  When he reappeared he held a shotgun and fired into the frightened crowd.  W.D. Coffman, James Laribee, C.T. Chevalier and Emil Roberts, a boy, were wounded at the first shot.  Before the terrified spectators could move, Lobb fired the second barrel.  Vincent Roumante, W. Jones and David Farrell were struck by the scattering charge.  Lobb quickly reloaded and fired again at the fleeing crowd.  George H. de Longton was struck.

When Wong Qung Wo, a Chinese, employed in a store across the street, stepped out to "look see," Lobb fired at him with a pistol.  His aim was accurate, for the Chinaman was wounded in the hand.

It is fortunate that the maniac did not have a rifle instead of a shotgun.  Had he fired but three shots with a rifle he would perhaps have killed or mortally wounded at least three people.

The gun used was a 12-bore shotgun, and the shells were loaded with No. 4 shot, the kind usually used in duck shooting.

Policeman Percy Smith heard the first shots, and rushing up to Lobb's room demanded his surrender.  The maniac's reply was a shot through the transom.  The Central Police Station was immediately notified, and Policeman Kissane, J.C. O'Connor, J.B. O'Connor, J.J. Tillman, Prowse and Wratton were rushed to the scene, in command of Captain Duke and Lieutenant Green.

Three rifles were brought along.  It was at first Captain Duke's intention to station marksmen on the roofs opposite to pick off the maniac, but this was found impracticable, as the other buildings were lower than the room occupied by Lobb.

Kissane and J.C. O'Connor rushed at the door of the maniac's room, but it held fast, and a shot tghought the transom warned them that the man inside was on the alert.

"I'm going to get him," said Kissane.  He mounted a sofa and tried to peer over the transom.  A deafening report rang out, and he staggered back.  His face was bleeding profusely where a pellet from the shotgun had struck him, and O'Connor, thinking he had been badly wounded, tried to drag him away from the door.

But Kissane leaped to his feet with a laugh, and the two officers emptied their revolbers through the door, hoping to hit the maniac with a chance shot.  Another roar of the shotgun convinced them that Lobb had not been hit.

Hutchings Performs
A Feat of Bravery

It was at this juncture that Policeman Hutchings showed himself a hero.  The maniac was telling triumphantly inside, and it seemed as though therew was no way of getting at him.

Captain Duke, who had been looking through the window of an adjoining room, saw that Lobb's room could be easily reached by was of the fire escape, if any one would dare attempt it.

"Hutchings, climb down that ladder and fire into the air," he ordered.  "The rest will rush the door."

"All right, captain," said Hutchings, quietly. "I'll take a chance."  He went up to the room over Lobb's and began the perilous desent.  Outside the door of the room where the maniac waited at bay a squad of policement watched eagerly for the signal.

A pistol shot rang out.  An instant later was the crashing report of the shotgun.  Frantically the policemen rushed at the door, believing that their comrade had been shot and that his battered body lay on the pavement, five stories below.

The door would not give, though five policemen shoved at it with all their might.  The men began firing into it, hoping to break the lock, when a voice called out, "Stop shooting.  It's Hutchings."

The brave policeman shoved aside the bed and mattress that had been used as a barricade and opened the door.  Barefoot and almost headless, the body of Lobb lay upon the floor.  A look at the walls and ceiling turned most of those who entered faint and sick.  The place was like a shambles.

The dead man was taken to the Morgue and his effects were taken in charge by Public Administrator Hynes.

Lobb was an Englishman, 34 years of age, and a carpenter by trade.  He was last employed in San Diego.  He was a member of the carpenters' union of that city, in good standing.  Letters found in his tool chest show that he had a sister, two brothers and parents in England.

It is thought that Lobb's murderous fit of insanity was brought on through brooding over a similar tragedy in San Diego.  About two months ago W.J. Stewart of that city, also a carpenter and a member of Lobb's union, ran amuck in the same manner.  Stewart killed five and wounded two before he killed himself.  The similarity of the cases convinces the police that Lobb was influenced by Stewart's insane deed.  Lobb had been visiting Benson, Arizona, shortly before he came here.

The wounded were rushed to the Central Emergency Hospital, where Dr. Glover and Chief Steward Bucher dressed their wounds.  Chevalier was the worst hurt.  The sight of one eye had been totaly destroyed.

While the wounds of the others were painful, Dr. Glover declared that none of them were dangerous.  The chinaman was the only one hit by a pistol bullet.  All the others were wounded by shot.

While the maniac was firing into the street a car stopped almost directly under the window.  Lobb fired upon it, shattering several panes of glass, but the passengers, warned by the cries of people huddled in doorways, kept out of signt.  The car moved on at full speed.

George W. Merritt of 2901 Fillmore street said that he had been introduced to Lobb on Tuesday afternoon.  At the time, Merritt declares, Lobb seemed sane and sober.

Peeps at Policeman
From Behind Curtain

Like all true heroes, Policeman Hutchings, who made a possible target of himself in the effort to take the maniac alive, is modest.  He said:

"I did not feel that I was doing anything particularly brave.  I always have endeavored to do my duty in danger or otherwise ever since I have been on the force.  I thought I might get on the fire escape and attract the maniac's attension while the others broke in the door and overpowered or shot him.  I crawled down the fire escape and edged toward the window for the purpose of dicharging my revolver and making him turn his back to the others.

"I fired a shot and he came to the window and took a look at me from behind the lace curtain.  I was prepared to send a bullet through him if he attempted to raise his gun, but he did not do so.  After a moment's inspection he retired behind the curtain again and a second later I heard a shot in the room.  I saw a piece of human flesh fly through the window and I knew just what had happened.  I then sprang through the window and opened the door for the other officers.  The room looked like a shambles when I entered.  I think he must have pulled the trigger of his shotgun with his toe.

"I do not see any use in making all this fuss over what I did.  It was simply what I thought I ought to do as my duty."

Captain Duke has the following to say concering the affair:

"As soon as I knew that a crazy man was making trouble here I hurried down after issuing orders that he be taken alive, if possible.  It is a matter of pride for the people of the city that the police handled this case so well.  Not a man of all those gathered showed the white feather when it came to facing the crazy man's gun.  I think we were fortunate to corner the fellow before he had a chance to shoot the remaining shells.  He knew enough to be afraid of the police, and when he saw his barricade at the door would not keep us out, he blew his head off rather than be killed or forced to surrender.  I am particularly gratified at the exhibition of unusual bravery on the part of two or three of the men."

Exhibits Wariness
When Shown to Room

Lieutenant Green of the Central Station was among the first to arrive.  He says:

"Patrolman Percy Smith telephoned me early in the morning that there was a crazy man at the United States Hotel and that he had barricaded himself in his room.
I ordered him to arrest the man and see that he hurt no one.  Later Smith telephoned that he had looked over the transom and had seen the maniac with a gun and a revolver in his hand.  He said the fellow was threatening and might act bad.  I then said I would bring assistance, but meanwhile directed that the maniac be kept where he couldn't hurt any one if possible.

"Later Smith reported to me that three or four persons had been shot and, taking along a detachment with rifles, I hurried to the scene.  Captain Duke was immediately notified and he ordered that the man be taken by strategy if possible, but to kill him if necessary to save the lives of innocent people.  This was what I had myself previously ordered.  I remained in charge of operations until the arrival of Captain Duke."

Fred Morrisey, the night clerk who registered Lobb and fortunately gave him a room high up, says:

"The man came in about half-past 8 or 9 o'clock last night and asked for a room.  I noticed that he carried a gun case with a revolver stuck in the end of it, but saw nothing peculiar in his behavior.  I asked what priced room he wanted and he said he guessed he would take a dollar one.  He registered his name, but no address."

Emile Carpenter, the bellboy, makes the following statement:

"I took Lobb to his room and after looking under the bed and dresser and out of the window he said he was satisfied with it.  I thought there was something strange about his actions, but we meet all kinds of cranks in a hotel and so I did not take particular notice.  He stayed in his room, so far as I know, after I left him, and no one reported hearing him make any unusual sounds.  He did not appear to be under the influence of liquor.  He had no baggage besides his guns and three strawberry tarts."

Maniac Fires Greenbacks With the Duckshot

In spite of the extensive bloodshed, there is a humorous side to the United States Hotel tragedy.  Those who were not shot and who were not appalled by the narrowness of their escapes were getting much amusement out of the incident yesterday.  The way the immense crowd struck out for forts and cyclone cellars when the maniac, at first apparently harmless, unlimbered his artillery was a sight worth going long miles to witness.  The widely felt sorrow over the destruction of good American greenbacks was particularly pathetic.  The fact that about all of those who were hit would not have suffered had they pursued their several ways instead of watching a crazy man throw furniture from the window is also a matter of touching interest.

When the maniac commenced to toss chairs and crockery playfully into the street a crowd quickly gathered.  The pedestrians were for the most part those who go early to work, and the unusual spectacle seemed like a pleasant start for a hard day.  The faces of the spectators were turned gaping skyward and each newcomer commenced looking for an airship until the matter was explained.  The hotel people seemed to appreciate the humor of the situation less than the outsiders, in view of the reduction of their furniture to kindling wood.

Things were getting just a trifle monotonous when the insane man enlivened the scene by letting go his shotgun.  Some broke the doors down getting into the stores and saloons.  Others dove into cellars.  A part of the throng hastened down Eddy street to Mason and failed not to turn the corner.  Some tore up cobblestones in their anxiety to break all known sprinting records.  For a brief space of time it was a scene only of coattails, beneath which was a confused blur.  A bartender, who had been an interested watcher from a saloon doorway on the opposite side of the street, sought a small secluded spot beneath the bar, from which he was dragged by his employer an hour after the trouble had been settled.

Qung Wo heard what he thought was a big "filaclacker" and came out for a "look-see."  Lobb gave him a bullet through the hand and with his curiosity fully satisfied Qung retired within the doors of his shop in one long backward jump.  As a master of retreat he deserves a place on the Russian general staff.  In one second and a half after the ball had opened Eddy street looked as dead as a no-license town after dark.  Here and there, like gopher mounds on a prairie, the top of a head and half of an eye could be seen protruding fromdoorway or window ledge.

Some who started suddenly down Taylor or Mason street were reported as having passed the county line long before noon.  Those who chose the northern trip stilled their tempestuous hearts on the oderiferous strand known as North Beach.  And then all day long the merbid visitors to the locality inspected in horror a piece of custard pie, which some one alleged was a section of the maniac's brain.  One of the first audience had dropped it from his lunch basket and had failed to retrace his steps and recover it after the shooting began.

Clerk Morrissey was remembered in the fervent prayers of more than one who had been present at the battle of the United States Hotel, because he had given Lobb a fifth instead of a first story room.


Tries to Disguise Himself in Tailor Shop

Thomas Lobb purchased a suit of clothes from the tailoring establishment of J. Smith at 777 Market street Tuesday evening.  The proprietor of the store and M. McCrosson, a salesman, positively identified the maniac from photographs.  At the time, occupants of the store were aroused at the suspicious actions of the stranger and remarked that he was trying to evade the police.

"That is the man that purchased a suit of clothes from me last night," said Smith, when shown a phtograph of Lobb.  "He came in here about 6 o'clock in the eveining and asked for a suit.  As we carry no ready-made clothing, I told him the only suit I had in the store was one uncalled for and I did not know whether it would fit him.  My salesman led him to a dressing room to try it on.  In his back pockets Lobb carried two large revolvers.  Once when McCrosson touched him on the shoulder, he jumped in the air and warned him to never touch him again.

"He said he would purchase the suit and gave me $12.50 for it.  I asked him his name so as to make out a bill for him and he refused to give it.  He then asked me to sell him a hat.  I told him the only hats in the store were those which belong to myself and empolyes [sic.].  He said he must have one and then offered to purchase McCrosson's.  He said he would give him $5 for it.  McCrosson though it was a good bargain, as his hat was old, and agreed to make the sale.

"Another thing which aroused by suspicous [sic.] was that he picked up a small pair of scissors which were lying on the counter and went over to the mirror and cut his mustache off.  I did not know what to make out of his queer actions.  I suspected that he had committed some offense and way trying to evade detection.  He certainly was trying to disguise himself."

The Carpenters' Union has taken charge of Lobb's body and will attend to the funeral arrangements.

Strikes Friend and
Leaves City to
Evade Arrest.

 Special Dispatch to the Call.

SAN DIEGO, June 21 - Thomas Lobb came to San Diego about two years ago, but little is known here of his past.  He was a member of the San Diego Carpenters' Union and during most of the time he was in this city was employed at Fort Rosecrans by Solon Bryan.  While there he was known as a sober, industrious workman and while not an expert carpenter was conscientious in his work.

He was also employed on the Granger block.  J.C. O'Neill, a stairbuilder, had Lobb detailed as his assistant and endeavored to teach him the business.  Their relations were pleasant until on election night, April 4, O'Neill met Lobb on Fifth street.  Lobb addressed a foul name to O'Neill and followed it up with a blow on O'Neill's jaw.  The next day, O'Neill got out a warrant for Lobb's arrest and the latter, hearing of the action, left San Diego before the warrant could be served.

Workmen Generally considered that Lobb was "slightly off" at the Granger building.  C.L. Schmucker was foreman and Lobb had told Scmucker that he had trouble with O'Neill at Fort Rosecrans. On April 4 O'Neill came up to look over the work on the block and Lobb confided to Mr. Schmucker that he knew O'Neill was there to spoil his work.  The next day he complained that O'Neill had spoiled some window joints, but Schmucker could not see that anything was wrong.  That night the trouble occurred.  Schmucker knew nothing of his habits, but says that Lobb had not been drinking when he acted so peculiarly on the occasion of O'Neill's visit.

From remarks made by Lobb at different times it is supposed his father was a gamekeeper on an English preserve.  Lobb is thought to have been a former member of the Canadian Mounted Police in the Northwest Territory.

SourceThe San Francisco Call, 22 June 1905, pages 3 and 4.

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Donated to the Public Domain by Ron S. Filion and Pamela Storm.