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Monday, January 10, 2011

Bowie-Knife Burglar in Brooklyn

In November 1894, New York newspapers covered a home invasion in Brooklyn in which the Rev. Frederick C. Seckerson, 22, drove off a bowie-knife wielding burglar with a shot from his .32-caliber revolver. Here is the key section of the article, which was titled "Hard Fight With a Burglar":
Awakening shortly after 1 AM, upon hearing a noise in his room, Seckerson saw that his bedroom window, which he had left open only a crack, had been fully opened.

He called out: “Who is there?”

Receiving no answer, Seckerson reached for his Smith & Wesson .32 revolver, which lay on the table beside his bed. He then ran to the window to see if anyone was on the roof of a shed directly below. As no one was there, he turned back to look around his room. Then he saw a man crouched behind the back of a reclining chair, which stood near the center of the room. Before he could again speak the man sprang up and made a rush at him. The fellow uttered an oath, at the same time telling Mr. Seckerson to stand aside or it would be the worse for him. At the same time he raised his left hand, and, by the moonlight streaming in at the window, Mr. Seckerson saw that the intruder held in his hand a long knife. The two men grappled, the intruder catching Seckerson by the right shoulder, at the same time plunging the knife into his right arm just below the elbow. Mr. Seckerson had caught him by the shoulder or neck with his left arm, and as the knife entered his arm he discharged the revolver.
Where the ball struck the burglar Mr. Seckerson cannot say, but he thinks it took effect in the man's chest or lower part of the body, as he had his arm raised high and the pistol was pointed downward. It is certain, however, that the ball struck him and wounded him seriously, for the intruder with another oath shouted, “You've done me,” and again tried to break away from the hold of Mr. Seckerson.
The two men were close to the window and after struggling for a minute or two the burglar broke away and threw himself out of the window upon the roof of the shed. He gained his feet in a moment or two and ran across the shed to the corner, where the division fence joins it. As he reached the fence Mr. Seckerson fired another shot at him. Whether it struck him or not he cannot say, nor did he see which way the burglar went, as he turned to give an alarm to the family.
In response to the cries Mr. Myles ran downstairs. He found Mr. Seckerson tearing his shirt into strips and binding his arm in an effort to stanch the flow of blood. In a few words the details of the encounter were related by Mr. Seckerson and the two men went to the window. On the floor just inside of the window was a pool of blood a foot or more in diameter, and in the clear moonlight a heavy trail of blood ran diagonally across the shed, marking the track of the escaping burglar. Lying about midway of the roof was the bowie knife with which he had stabbed Mr. Seckerson.
The burglar escaped. The article concludes:
The bowie knife with which the burglar stabbed Mr. Seckerson is on exhibition at the Classon Avenue station house. It is an ugly looking weapon with a blade about ten inches long.

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