29 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections
RUSSIAN RUNS AMOK
BROKEN HILL EXPRESS SENSATION WILD SCENES AT RIVERTON SEVERAL PASSENGERS SHOT MR. PERCY BROOKFIELD KILLED
A demented Russian made a demoniacal attack upon the passengers travelling by the Broken Hill express to Adelaide at the Riverton railway station on Tuesday morning. More than 40 shots were fired by him from a Spanish
automatic pistol, and Mr. Percy Brookfield, M.L.A., was mor- tally wounded in attempting to capture the man. Four other persons, including a woman, were shot. The Russian was overpowered, and is now at the Adelaide gaol.
A sensation unparalleled in the his- tory of the South Australian railways oc- curred at Riverton on Tuesday morn- ing during the stay of the Broken Hill express at that station. A Russian named Koorman Tomayeff, aged 36, ran amok on the station platform and fired shots variously estimated at be- tween 30 and 50 in number into the crowd of people gathered at the station, and also into the train and refreshment rooms. For a while there was a veritable reign of terror, and several people were struck by bullets. The names of the victims are:— Mr. PERCY BROOKFIELD, member for the Barrier in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, two rounds in the abdomen and one in the foot (dead). Mr. W. H. SMITH, motor garage pro- prietor, of Peterborough (shot in thigh). Mr. WILLIAM CROWHURST, of Oodlawirra (shot in thigh). Mrs. M.E. RICE, of Argent-street, Broken Hill (shot in chest). Mr. W.J. GEORGE (brother of Mr. Sebastian George, of Adelaide), chemist and storekeeper at Yannup, Western Aus- tralia. Mr. Percy Brookfield was removed to the Adelaide Hospital, where he was operated on. He gradually sank, and died at 5.45 o'clock in the afternoon. Tomayeff attracted little notice until the shooting began. He travelled from Broken Hill, and one passenger who occupied the same compartment with him for part of the journey said he never uttered a word. He did not appear moody or troubled in any way, and seemed a quite inoffensive person. He was a second-class passenger, and other people who saw him con- sidered him to be of a morose tempera- ment. Prior to this occurrence quite a stir was created among the passengers by a young woman, who was travelling from Broken Hill to Adelaide, where her home is said to be, giving birth to a child on the train. A nurse was found on board and the mother and child received attention and were taken into a nursing home at Terowie. This incident caused the train to run late. -- No Warning Given. -- The passengers alighted at Riverton, and many proceeded to the refreshment rooms for breakfast, others taking refreshment in the train. The meal had finished, and the five minutes' notice of the starting of the train was about to be given by the bell when the sharp sound of pistol shots rang out. At first the people were simply surprised and cautious, and looked around to see whence the sounds came. A man was then seen standing at one end of the platform and firing with great delibe- ration into the crowd. The utmost con- sternation reigned, and very soon every-one was rushing for safety. The foreigner gave no warning—he simply fired into the living mass, and his target was an excel- lent one. Guard Thomas, who was in charge of the train, had an unenviable ex- perience at the beginning of the affray. He saw a man standing near the brake- van and approached him thinking he wanted luggage. Suddenly he found him- self looking down the barrel of a pistol, but fortunately for him at such short range the man did not pull the trigger. -- An Automatic Pistol. -- Almost immediately the indiscriminate firing began. Tomayeff lifted his firearm and brought it down in practised style as he pulled the trigger. The steadiness of his aim is shown by the fact that two shots which he directed at the door of the refreshment room both passed through the doorway, although without injuring anyone. He was armed with an automatic pistol, and he emptied the magazine into the crowd. He then ran away a short distance, recharged his weapon from a bag
of cartridges which he carried, and resumed shooting. This he did several times. -- Lack of Firearms. -- The women on the train were terror- stricken, but nevertheless behaved admir- ably, Some of the men, too, are to be com- mended for the manner in which they strove to deal with the madman. Constable Kinsela, of Broken Hill, was travelling by the train dressed in plain clothes, and forces were organised for the capture of the dangerous maniac. Only one person present had a firearm, however. It was a revolver, containing three cartridges. Three shots were taken at Tomayeff, but the aim was bad, and none of the shots took effect. The madman held everyone at bay for a length of time, variously estimated by the excited passengers at from half an hour to an hour. Eventually a rifle was secured by the Hon. W. Hannaford and a pas- senger by the train, who rushed off in search of it when they realised how serious was the position. -- A Wild Stampede. -- The excitement was intense. The man stood there mumbling and firing away, and other men rushed about calling for revol- vers or other weapons. One passenger, describing the scene, said "The bell was just going to ring. We came out of the refreshment room. We heard shots and saw people running this way and that. I said, 'This is no good to me' and I, too, ran. The platform wast crowded, but I saw the man landing there and his revolver going, 'Bing, bing, bing,' steadily. It was enough to shake anyone's nerves. Eventually someone got in and gave the man a punch on the jaw, and he went down." -- A "Terrific" Fire. -- The people were panic stricken, and rushed for the shelter of the carriages. Others stampeded off the platform into the station office. For a time everyone seemed at loss to know how to deal with the man. Mounted Constable Woodhead, of River- ton, although unarmed, rushed at Toma- yeff but was driven off by the fire, which the onlookers described as terrific. The Russian retreated to the Clare platform and renewed the fusillade. Messrs. Crow- hurst, Smith, and George were the first to fall. Then Mrs. Rice collapsed. Mr. Brookfield was the last victim. Several rifles had been produced by this time and shots find at the maniac. -- A Courageous Act. -- The end appeals to hare been brought about mainly by the heroism of Mr. Brookfield, who rushed in and drew the fire of the madman, and in that way enabled others to reach him. Mr. J. Moriarty, of Broken Hill, who was tra- velling with Mr. Brookfield and Mr.M. Quigley, also of the Barrier, said Mr. Brookfield took a revolver from Constable Kinsela and rushed Tomayeff. Constable Kinsela did the same. The madman took deliberate aim at Mr. Brookfield, and fired several shots. The member for the Bar- rier fell severely wounded in the stomach, but Constable Kinsela dashed on to the man and struck him a heavy blow on the jaw. Credit for the capture wag given by Mr. Quigley, however, to Mr. Gerald Campbell, who jumped on to the man and brought him down. A railway employe named Minns, who had previously taken a couple of shots at the man with a rifle, hit him a terrific blow on the head with the butt of the weapon. The crowd quickly closed in, and the Rus- sian was overpowered. He was taken to the lock-up, where 45 live cartridges were found in his possession. He had a second- class ticket to Riverton, and was under- stood to be going to Clare. He had re- sided at Iodide-street, Broken Hill. The cause of his action is unknown. A woman stated that he bad been gambling on the train, and had lost a considerable sum of
money. It is suggested that seeing some of the men whom he believed to have fleeced him, he decided to shoot them, and, having opened fire, went mad, and con- -tinued the fusillade indiscriminately for about half an hour. He had six shots at Constable Woodhead. People who saw the affair were loud in praise of the heroism. of Mr. Brookfield, who exposed himself in the interest of others. The station pre- mises are punctured with bullet marks. After the affair the crowd searched the platform for souvenirs, and nearly every- body in Riverton has either bullets or cartridge cases. This morbid search re- vealed the fact that the Russian used both lead and nickel bullets of .32 calibre. -- Suggestion of Lynching. -- The men on the railway station were infuriated, and several were for lynching the Russian without further delay, but the police and some of the passengers protected him. First aid was rendered to the injured, and they were placed in the brakevan and conveyed to the city, where the train arrived considerably after the time it was due. The railway authorities in town had been notified, and had stretchers waiting on the platform, and an ambulance in the station yard. The injured persons were taken to the Adelaide Hospital. Mr. George attempted to walk by holding on to the fence, but the others were stretcher cases, and Mr. George was eventually prevailed upon to allow himself to be carried on a stretcher. Mrs. Rice seemed not to be in a very bad way, but Mr. Brookfield lay inert, with closed eyes, apparently unconscious, and looked very ill indeed. There was a sensation in Ade- laide when the train arrived. A young girl had a narrow escape. She was wear- ing a sealskin coat, which was struck by one of the bullets. The missile was de- flected, however, and wounded Mr. Crow- hurst in the leg. -- Constable Woodhead's Account. -- Constable Woodhead, after the affair, said:—"I was at the station on duty when the train arrived. Following the usual custom, I walked from one end of the train to the other. I was just turn- ing round, near the guard's van, when I heard two shots and saw Mr. Crowhurst fall. Tomayeff rushed past me towards the Clare platform. I followed. He jumped off the platform and, reloading his pistol, fired three times at me at close range. I took shelter behind the picket fence. Tomayeff ran down the platform again, firing all the time, and in passing me fired again point blank, but missed. He never looked towards me. I rushed across the railway line, and heard two more bul- lets whizz past my bead. The Russian again ran down the platform, seized a small handbag, cut the straps, and got an- other supply of cartridges. By this time I had worked my way round the plat- form in an endeavor to get to the police- station for firearms. Someone handed me a rifle. On going back I saw Mr. Brook- field rush out, revolver in hand. He got close up to the Russian when he put his arms behind his back and, falling, cried, 'My God, I'm done.' At this stage the Russian ceased firing, and I found after- wards that a cartridge had become jammed in the chamber of his pistol. Several men then rushed Tomayeff, who fought like a devil. Someone cracked him on the head with a rifle. He was overpowered. I took 40 cartridges from him and a Spanish automatic pistol, the latest thing in fire- arms. He fired about 41 shots."
-- Sorry for Mr. Brookfield. -- When handcuffed it is understood that the prisoner asked who had been hit, and when told that Mr. Brookfield was seriously injured said he was sorry for him, but he was not sorry for the others. To Wood- head he said, "You are a lucky man. I fired five or six shots at you." -- Wounded Man's Statement. -- Mr. George, who was wounded in the affray, stated on arrival in Adelaide that, seeing a commotion at the end of the platform he went towards the spot and saw Mr. Brookfield shot. He moved towards a carriage to get bandages, of which he always carries a stock, and the Russian turned the weapon upon him, apparently thinking he was seeking a fire- arm in the carriage. A bullet struck Mr. George in the side, but he is not seriously injured. -- As Others Saw It. -- Vivid stories were told by the acting stationmaster at Riverton and Mr. Ken Roenfeldt, son of the proprietor of the Riverton railway refreshment rooms. They saw it all. As soon as the stationmaster realised what was happening he ordered the people into the carriages, and gave the signal for the train to be pulled out of the station. When Tomayeff saw the train moving he lowered his revolver and fired at the lower portion of the coaches. At this stage a schoolboy calmly lifted his head above the platform and began to throw stones at the maniac, who, for- tunately, treated the rain of juvenile mis- siles with contempt. Much of the Russian's fire was aimless. Bullets lodged in the roof of the station premises, and others skimmed along the pavement. One shot lodged in the woodwork of a window close to where eight people were seated at a table. While the train was about to move off a railway clerk, in attempting to shut a carriage door, attracted the attention of the Russian, and a bullet just grazed the clerk's head. Dr. Bartlett, who gave medical assistance, is relieving Dr. Glynn at Riverton, and took up his duties on Monday. He was acting similarly when the Rhynie tragedy occurred, and had arrived in the district only a few days before Lee murdered his family. -- The Prisoner. -- The townspeople were in a simmer of excitement all day. The shooting was heard plainly in the main street. People loitered about the police-station throughout the day, it having been rumored that the police intended to charge Tomayeff and escort him to Adelaide. Tomayeff is a short, thick set, powerful man, about 36 years of age. It was reported he was a correspondent in Petrograd. After his arrest he was calm, but when questions were put to him he shook his head, and said he could not understand. His eyes, dark and deep set, looked horrible when he was brought into court. The blood, which flowed from the wound in his head, had not been removed from his face, and his hair was matted. He was going to Clare to seek employment as a grape-picker. He formerly lived at Booleroo. He was a single man, and complained that he had not been able to sleep, as he believed people were waiting to kill him. He told police he had bought the revolver to protect himself. -- "I Shoot Everybody." -- Tomayeff looked terrible when he was placed in the dock at Riverton. He affected not to understand when Constable Woodhead read the charge, alleging that he had unlawfully attempted to murder Percy Brookfield. Sub-Inspector Birt represented the Crown. When Constable Woodhead began to recite to the justice the events of the morning the accused told Sub-Inspector Birt that he could not understand the witness. Constable Woodhead said he saw Mr. Brookfield going in the direction of the accused, and heard the shots fired and hit him. When charged and cautioned, Tomayeff said:- "I will say nothing." Tomayeff, speaking in broken English, exclaimed:- Eight men with two knives and poison try to kill me on train. Sub-Inspector Birt—Can you understand English? The Accused—Some talk I understand; some not. When the evidence of the constable was being read over to him, Tomayeff said:- "Two men take knives and poison. Hit me on jaw and try put it down my mouth. I'm too frightened. I shoot everybody." The hearing was adjourned until to- morrow. Hundreds of residents were out to see the prisoner escorted to the rail- way-station. He was taken to the Adelaide Gaol.