Frank Oakley, B. R. T. Register Taker, Accidently Killed at Maspeth Barn.
"HANDS UP,'' CRIED MADDEN.
"I Eat Bullets," Answers Youth, as Fellow Clerk Sends Bullet Into His Brain.
Frank Oakley, 27 years old, one of the clerical force at the Brooklyn Transit Company's barn at Grand street and Juniper avenue, Maspeth, was shot and instantly killed at 6:55 PM by Stephen Madden, 19 years old, his friend and fellow employee.
The shooting, which took place in the office in the presence of a number of other clerks, was accidental. Madden was examining a magazine rifle, the property of the desk clerk, when Oakley, who had been called away from his desk on some mission incident to his duties, re-entered the room.
"Hands up or I'll shoot," Madden commanded, playfully.
"Oh, I eat bullets," retorted Oakley, with a shrug.
The hammer of the weapon fell into place, there was a sharp report, and the next instant Oakley, with blood flowing from one of his eyes, lay on the floor.
"My God," cried Madden as the rifle fell from his hands to the floor. "I thought the thing was unloaded."
A physician was at once called, but Oakley was dead before the doctor arrived.
Both Oakley and Madden had been in the employ of the B. R. T., at its Maspeth barn, for some time. The former was a register taker and lived at 67 Lexington Avenue. The latter was mileage clerk and also served as night clerk. His home address is 445 Fifty-Seventh Street, Brooklyn.
One of the peculiar features of the accident is that several of the other clerks in the office had pulled the trigger of the rifle during the afternoon, but there was no discharge. It was the opinion of these as well as of Madden, that the weapon was not loaded. Madden also had dropped the hammer several times before Oakley entered the room, and each instance the only result was a harmless click.
The bullet which ended Oakley's life entered the right eye and penetrated the brain. Pending the arrival of the physician he was carried into an upstairs room by fellow employees. Dr. Gow, a local doctor, reached the barn within a few minutes, but there was nothing he could do. Madden collapsed when informed that his friend was dead.
A telephone call had in the meanwhile been sent to the police of the 277th Precinct station and several policemen were sent to the car barn. All the witnesses were rigidly examined, but there was no question that the shooting was an accidental one. Madden was placed under arrest on a technical charge of homicide and taken almost hysterical with terror and grief to the police station, where he was locked up.
"We had all tried the rifle and were convinced it wasn't loaded," he told the officers. Oakley, who was very popular among his fellows, was the sole support of a widowed mother. He was a member of several fraternal organizations. The body was removed to Skelton's morgue.