Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

The Castac Shooting.
Testimony of Eye Witnesses of the Affair.

Heard by the Coroner's Jury.
Charmicle and Gardner Charged with Murder — Result of a Land Dispute.

Click to enlarge.

Coroner Meredith returned from Newhall at 9 o'clock last night with the papers relating to the inquest upon the bodies of Dolores Cook, a native of California, 36 years of age, and George W. Walton, an Englishman, about 35 years old, who were shot and killed in the Castac cañon, fourteen miles from Newhall, on Friday morning, as the result of a quarrel over the possession of a piece of land.

The most material witness, a laborer named Joseph Olme, testified that the deceased Dolores Cook was his brother-in-law. About 9 o'clock on Friday morning George Walton called at Cook's house and requested the assistance of Cook and the witness in erecting a shanty he was going to put up some distance away. Both men accompanied him to a gate leading to a pasture, where a pile of lumber was stacked close to the fence. A big wagon was obtained from W.W. Jenkins's ranch near by and this was loaded with part of the lumber, and Walton and Olme drove off in the wagon towards the site selected for the building, Cook following behind in a buggy. The road led past a shanty belonging to Juan Lavas, and as the wagon approached this building W.C. Charmicle [sic] came out and, walking up to the wagon, told Walton that he had warned him several times not to haul lumber on that land, indicating the spot they were making for. Walton replied that "he would haul it every time;" whereupon Charmicle walked round to the tail end of the wagon and commenced pulling the lumber out of it. Walton, using an opprobrious epithet, jumped down and struck Charmicle in the face with his fist, and as he did so a pistol which the latter had concealed in his coat sleeve fell to the ground. At this juncture Gardner came out of the shanty also, carrying a rifle in his hands, which he pointed at Walton. Charmicle then picked up his revolver and pointed it at Walton also. The latter, however, coolly got upon his seat and drove on, when Charmicle rushed up and grabbing the line stopped the team. Walton again jumped down, whereupon Charmicle let go his hold and the former walked alongside the wagon while Olme drove on for 150 yards, when they dumped the lumber and returned for another load. Charmicle and Gardner disappeared meanwhile, and as the trio were making their second trip the two men opened fire upon them simultaneously from the windows of the shanty. Olme and Walton were sitting on top of the lumber on the wagon, the latter being on the side near the shanty, and after the first shots were fired he shrugged his shoulders in a contemptuous manner, and with a groan, fell from the wagon, dead. Olme immediately jumped off the lumber and crouched behind the wagon, and as he did so the ambushed men fired again, and Olme saw Cook, who was in the buggy about ten yards behind the wagon, fall forward. As he dropped his lines, the mare attached to his buggy jumped forward and started to run. As the buggy passed by the wagon, which was now standing still, the team having swerved round and camped its wheels, Olme ran out and grabbed the mare on the far side and stopped it from running away. Gardner seeing that Olme had taken the precaution of placing the mare between himself and the house, and that he was rapidly moving out of range, ran out of the house and fired six times at his retreating form. The first shot took effect just behind the mare's shoulder, but Olme kept moving on, and as the animal soon became too lame to keep up, he made a dash for it and ran to W.W. Jenkins's house about a mile away and informed him of the murder. Previous to the dispute Walton had given his pistol to Olme to take care of, in order to avoid the possibility of his using it; and the latter handed it to Jenkins and showed him that it had not been used.

About five minutes after the shooting Charmicle and Gardner were seen to leave the shanty by a farmer named Thomas Riley, who was about 300 yards away at the time, and the two men ran up a small hill behind the house, and mounting a buckskin horse, one behind the other, they rode off up the cañon at full speed.

Riley corroborated the statement of Olme in every particular, and added that after the men had ridden away he went up to Walton, but finding that he was dead he went up to Cook, who begged of him to cover up his feet, as they were cold as ice. After throwing a robe over Cook's extremities, he turned to leave him in order to obtain assistance, but Cook begged him not to go away, as he was afraid that Charmicle and Gardner would return and kill him. Riley, however, went over to the place where the buggy and mare stood, and driving back, picked Cook up, and placing him in the vehicle, drove to Jenkins's house and left him there. He then returned with a wagon and carried Walton's body there also, and on this second trip found Cook's revolver lying close to where he fell, all the chambers being loaded. In spite of the efforts made by the Jenkins family, Cook died at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Juan Burola, an old Mexican who stated that he was 90 years of age and resided in the Palomas cañon, said he was in charge of the shanty belonging to Juan Lavas, and that Charmicle and a man whom he did not know came there on Friday morning and shot at three men on a lumber wagon, from the inside. The three men who were shot at did not use any weapons.

Dr. McGowan testified that he held post-mortem examinations upon the bodies of the two men, Walton and Cook. Death resulted in Walton's case from three bullet wounds, one in the left breast, one under the armpit and the last in the middle of the back, which was evidently a wound of exit from the second bullet. The cause of death in Cook's case was a bullet wound in the left shoulder, severing the collar bone and cutting the spinal cord.

The jury returned a verdict in each case to the effect that the deceased came to his "death from a gunshot wound inflicted with a gun in the hands of either W.C. Charmicle or W.A. Gardner, with intent to commit murder."

No clue had been obtained as to the whereabouts of either of the accused up to the hour of going to press.

News story courtesy of Lauren Parker.


• Bill Jenkins & Lazy Z

••• SERIES •••
Chormicle, Gardener Tried for Murder of Cook, Walton

• Pollack Story 2014
• Reynolds Story
• C. Rasmussen Story


Story of Bill Jenkins
Kreider 1952


W.C. Chormicle


Chormicle Allies Start a School, 1889/90


Land Feud Goes to Court 1890


Chormicle's Son Arrested 1890


Dolores Cook Land Patent 1891


Suen Murders Aceda 1895


Chormicle Sued for Slander 1910

SEE ALSO: Lazy Z (Jenkins Ranch) Graves Unearthed 1998

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