POCK, Laura E.
POCK, Laura E. (c. 1872-1889), seventeen year old girl accidentally killed at Avalon on June 10, 1889 by a stray bullet. This is the first reported accidental homicide.
In the News~
June 11, 1889 [LAH]: “A young lady killed at Catalina Island. A telephone message was received at midnight last night from San Pedro stating that a seventeen-year-old girl had been accidentally killed at Santa Catalina Island. The particulars obtainable at that our were meager, and there was an uncertainty about the name. It appears that Mr. G. M. Bock and his seventeen-year-old sister have been at Catalina for a few days past, and that last evening the young lady was near the shooting gallery. The man in charge of the shooting gallery was cleaning or fixing his guns, when one of them went off accidentally, the bullet hitting Miss Bock and killing her instantly. The accident created considerable excitement at the island, and word was immediately sent to San Pedro for the Coroner, who will visit the spot today and hold the inquest.”
June 13, 1889 [LAH]: “A Curious Accident. It causes the death of Miss Pock at Catalina. The coroner's inquest on the body of Laura E. Pock, the young lady who was killed last Monday morning at Santa Catalina Island, brings out the fact that the accident was of rather a curious order. The young lady was in a tent belonging to M. L. Parcells, a clerk of this city and a brother of C. S. Parcells. Mr. Parcells was working at some fishing tackle which he was assisting her to get in order. Suddenly there was the crack of a rifle near at hand, and she threw up arms and fell back, crying 'Oh! I am shot. Purcells assisted her to her mother's tent, which was a short distance away, the blood gushing from her mouth. Before they reached the tent the young woman was dead. In the tent next to that occupied by Purcells there was a shooting gallery, and Conrad Sandmiller had been cleaning a Winchester rifle. He had slipped out the chamber and supposed that the gun was empty. It appears, however, that some one had pushed the pump forward, throwing a cartridge into the barrel, and had then put the gun down without discharging it. Thus it happened that after the cartridge was taken out, one had still remained in the gun. In handling the weapon while he was charging it, Sandmiller struck the hammer against the edge of the counter and the charge was fired. It went through the walls of the two tents and entered the body of Miss Pock. The jury of inquest brought in a verdict that Miss Laura E. Pock, 17 years of age and a native of California, came to her death from a gunshot wound inflicted accidentally with a gun in the hands of Conrad Sandmiller, and while said Sandmiller was cleaning the gun.”