Election eve shooting results in tragic death

After Fred G. Garcia gave eloquent, lengthy speech at El Ranchero, a band led Bota supporters in a street parade full with torches and banners. When they passed El Clarin, its editor F. De P. Gonzalez came out with a six-shooter in hand and struck one or two of the children shouting “Viva la Bota” and himself shouted “Viva El Guarache!” Older boys wrestled pistol from him and made him shout “Viva la Bota”.

About sundown, October 20, editor Gonzales shot and killed Atanacio Gomez, a tailor in San Diego. An inquest was called to investigate the shooting. Conducting the inquest were William L. Rogers, Ignacio Gauna, Manuel Padros, and Dr. L. B. Wright. They found that Gonzales was in Encarnacion Yzaguirre’s barbershop on the old plaza and was putting on his coat after receiving a shave. Gomez came in and said he did not understand why Mexicans were allowed to carry guns in San Diego.

Gonzales told Gomez to report him and Gomez accused Gonzales of punching his boy with a pistol the previous evening. Gomez challenged Gonzales to a fistfight and opened his vest to show Gonzales he was unarmed. Gonzales said he did not want to fight as both men walked out of barbershop.

At the door, Gonzales stopped, turned and drew a 32 American five-shooter. Gomez advanced upon Gonzales, struck him with one hand and grabbed the pistol with the other. As they fought, the pistol went off shooting Gomez in the heart killing him.

Rogers then jumped Gonzales and caught his hand holding the pistol to which Gonzales replied, “Let me go or I will shoot you.” Deputy Culla arrived, took the pistol, arrested Gonzales and took him to jail. A double guard was placed on Gonzales as it was rumored that he would be lynched. Gonzales was a Guarache and Gomez a Bota.

After it was determined that the shooting was not political, people settled down. Gonzales’s friends said he was a small man and Gomez was larger, so they contended that Gonzales was acting in self-defense and the gun had accidentally discharged. This was the first killing in San Diego in about five years. Both men were highly regarded.

Six children survived Gomez; his wife, reportedly the daughter of one of the original heirs of the founders of San Diego, had died several months before.

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