Two policemen shot in Lake Placid, 1907

The Fourth of July in 1907 was on a Thursday, the same as in 2013, and a terrible story unfolded, as told on the front page of the Enterprise.

The Enterprise was not then a daily, so the story dated July 4 was covering events that happened the previous Monday and Tuesday.

President Harding of Saranac Lake and President Shea of Lake Placid held titles of president, later changed to mayor. Probably in 1907, as in the 1960s when I was mayor of Saranac Lake, the village board members were all ex-officio police officers.

Here is the incredible story of 106 years ago, pieced together from Enterprise pages found in the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library:

“George Delcour aged about 36 years, a roustabout and bully and general bum and tough, shot two policemen in the Newman section of Lake Placid (that general area now occupied by the famous Lisa G’s Restaurant) on Monday evening, and fled with a horse and buggy. One of the officers, who was shot, Fred Cutler, died Tuesday evening.

“After an exciting chase, the murderer was captured in a piece of woods about a quarter of a mile this side of Bloomingdale. The shooting took place about 6:15 o’clock in Napole (?) in Bissen’s barber shop on Main Street. Delcour, who had been drinking heavily for a week or more past, had been about town drunk and creating disorder all day. He had been driving recklessly about the streets and had promised several times to go home but had not done so. He had declared frequently that ‘no cop could take him in’ and had said that he would ‘do any cop that tried to take him in.’

“Village president John Shea heard of Delcour’s reckless driving and ordered the police to arrest him.

The shooting

“Delcour had driven to Bissen’s shop to get shaved. The two policemen, Fred Cutler and John Arnold went to the shop and waited until Delcour had been shaved and sat down in a chair. Entering the shop Cutler, who was in advance, approached Delcour and said: ‘You are under arrest; I want you to come along with me.’ ‘Where to?’ asked Delcour. ‘To the station house,’ answered the policeman.

“‘Ha, Ha,’ chuckled Delcour. With that he pulled a gun and fired the ball striking Cutler in the left side just below the heart. Cutler fell to the floor and Delcour firing at Arnold as he went, started for the door. Arnold backed out of the shop and fired at Delcour, but the shot did not hit him. Delcour fired again and hit Arnold in the arm causing him to drop his gun.

“By this time Delcour had reached his rig, an open buggy drawn by a bay horse, and after another exchange of shots, neither of what took effect, he jumped in and drove away coming in the direction of Saranac Lake.

Parties in pursuit

“Word of the shooting was at once telephoned to President Harding of Saranac Lake. This was about 7:15 p.m. o’clock. President Harding summoned Policeman Tom Brennan and accompanied by Frank Vosberg they got into E. L. Gray’s auto and with Mr. Gray driving they started out on the lower road to Lake Placid to head off the assassin.

“Another party comprising Peter H. Lindstrom, private secretary to his Grace, the Duke of America and Edmund Lamy, the champion amateur ice skater, each armed to the teeth took the upper road to intercept the fugitive should he come that way.

“President Harding’s party was also well armed. They went as far as Ray Brook where they met a party from Lake Placid, who told them that Delcour had taken the upper road. (Harding’s party started out on the lower road and ended up in Ray Brook, the road we know today, but where was the upper road located?) The party comprised President Shea’s brother, James Shea, a Lake Placid meat dealer, Deputy Sheriff Allen and ex-Sheriff Sidney Barnard (I guess the same man who was at one time the St. Armand supervisor) of Essex County, and a special deputy sheriff, Lester Otis. Otis was taken into the auto and together they speeded back over the upper road in pursuit of Delcour who had only a few minutes’ start of them.”

(Continued next week)