Tom Cooper Jailed Following Killing of Morris P. Kiely on South El Paso Street
While his wife stood helplessly by, Morris P. Kiely, 38, former aviator at Fort Bliss, was fatally wounded by a .45 caliber bullet late Friday night. The shooting took place in front of the Clubhouse cafe on El Paso street, while after-theater crowds were thronging by.
Cattleman Is Held
Thomas E. Cooper, a cattleman, is held by the county authorities on a charge of murder. Kiely died while being rushed to the emergency hospital in the patrol wagon. The one bullet fired passed directly over the heart.
No Motive Known
No actual motive is known. Both Cooper and his attorney, C.S.T. Folsom, refused to make statement after the cattleman was taken to the city jail by Provost Guard C.N. Gubernair and William Rothermund; city auto license inspector, who seized the man immediately following the shooting.
Argument Over Gambling
It is the police theory that Kiely and Cooper became involved in an argument over gaming. Kiely is said to have conducted a gambling table in Juarez which the cattleman patronized.
Woman Is Hysterical
The woman with Kiely, said to be his wife, after fainting over his body, became hysterical and was place under a physician's care. No connected statement could be gained from her. Both she and Kiely are said to have just returned from Juarez.
"Took Two $20 Bills"
Police base their theory of the motive for the shooting in an alleged statement made by Cooper, which was overheard by Rothermund. A few moments previous to the shooting and following the argument between Kiely and Cooper, the cattleman turned to a friend and said: "That fellow took two $20 bills out of my pocket. I ain't go a cent."
Was Former Aviator
Kiely was 38 years old. He was discharged form the 104th Aero squadron last March, and since that time worked at Fort Bliss for a time and then in Juarez running a gambling table, according to Sgt. Miles C. Cope, of the same unit, a personal friend of the dead man.
Were In Restaurant
According to statements taken after the shooting by Coroner R.H. Rawlings; a half hour before it took place, Cooper, Kiely and his wife and another man were seated at a table in the restaurant. Cooper got up and went out on the sidewalk, the young wife following and evidently attempting to get him to return to the table.
Had Previous Argument
Finally, Kiely got up and went outside and an argument took place between Cooper and the husband, after the latter forced the wife to go back inside the restaurant. Cooper left after making the statement to the friend about loosing money. Then Kiely and wife went back to the table and sat down.
Twenty or thirty minutes later Kiely started out of the door of the restaurant, evidently having seen Cooper approaching. Cooper, it is then charged, fired and Kiely fell to the sidewalk,
Pvt. G N. Gubernair, of the provost guard, and Rothermund then walked up to Cooper and placed him under arrest. Cooper surrendered without a word.
Falls Over Husband's Body
The wife, as Kiely fell to the sidewalk, fainted and after being revived was taken to police headquarters. She swooned agian on her way there, however, and was taken to her rooms at the Savoy hotel, where she was placed under a doctor's care.
Turned Over to County
Cooper was taken to the county jail and taken in charge by H.G. Van Haselen, following unsuccessful attempts of city officers to get him to talk.
El Paso Street Crowded
El Paso street was crowded with pedestrians at the hour the tragedy occurred, and after the military police had taken Cooper into custody and turned him over to the police, hundreds of men and women swarmed around the dead man, and while they completely blocked the entrance to the cafe, the sobs and moans of the wife of the slain man could be heard, coming from the rear of the cafe where she was being attended by several women who were in the cafe at the time of the tragedy.
Cooper was taken to the city jail by provost guards and Rothermund. The latter told Coroner Rawlings the following story of the shooting:
Story of the Tragedy.
My name is William Rothermund. I am licensed inspector for the city of El Paso. About 10:20 I was in front of the Club House cafe on business and noticed inside the cafe at a table a red-haired girl and three men. The defendant and the man shot were two of the men at the table. There seemed to be some kind of argument, but I didn't pay much attention to it.
The defendant Cooper came out on the sidewalk and the girl followed him out and accosted him in front of the Ellanay theater and apparently was trying to get him back into the cafe. I didn't hear what she said except, "I want you to come on in." She finally got Cooper back in front of the door of the Club House cafe and the deceased then came out, shook his finger at Cooper and they had some words. I didn't hear what they said. The deceased then grabbed Cooper with his left hand by the collar and called Cooper a harsh name. The third man in the party - I don't know his name - came to the door then and said to the deceased: "What are you trying to do?" and then he said, "If I was the old man I would knock you down." When the deceased came to the door the first time he pushed the girl back into the cafe. Then the deceased said, "What have you got on you?" and he run both hands under Cooper's coat and apparently felt of both hip pockets or of his hips. Then Cooper's friend said to Cooper; "Come on; let's get away from here." Cooper says: "That fellow took two $20 bills out of my pocket." Cooper searched his pockets, font and back and said, "I ain't got a cent." The man that was with Cooper said: "Let's get away from here. I'll give you what money you need." The two walked east on San Antonio street on the north side of the street. The deceased then went back in the restaurant and sat down with the red headed girl. The deceased was pacing back and forth inside the restaurant when Cooper returned about 25 minutes later. The deceased went out on the sidewalk to meet Cooper. I heard the deceased say something, but don't know what it was. I was still watching them and saw the deceased place his right hand, apparently reaching in his front trousers pocket, and reaching for Cooper's face or neck with his left. Cooper turned instantly, pulling his gun from his right side an fired, holding his gun about at his waist, close to his body. The deceased was about arm's length from Cooper when Cooper fired. Then I ran up, grabbed him and his gun and placed him under arrest. The deceased never spoke after being shot.
Private Gubenair of the military police made the following statement:
"My name is Private C.N. Gubernair, Seventh cavalry, H troop, detached on military police duty. When I first saw the body of the deceased it was lying on the sidewalk in front of the Club House cafe with the head about three feet from the door, lying in an angling position with the feet pointing southeast. I did not see the shot fired but saw the deceased falling after the shot was fired. I went straight to the body. The deceased did not utter a word.
Statement of Eye Witness
Cooper shot Kiely while the latter was ignorant of the cowman's presence was the statement made by R.V. Davenport. I live at the Haburn hotel, 217 1/2 West San Antonio street. I was standing across the street from the Club House cafe on El Paso street at about 11 o'clock when I saw defendant Cooper pull his gun and shoot the deceased. All the time the shot was fired the deceased had his head down, I believe. A few minutes before the shooting I had noticed the deceased and a red-headed girl in the doorway of the Club House cafe, having some kind of a conversation. When Cooper fired the shot he was about 8 or 9 feet from the deceased. I did not see the deceased make any movement toward his pocket or towards the defendant. I would say that he was looking at the deceased continuously three or four minutes before and up to the shooting. I did not see the defendant come across the street, but I saw him as he got on the sidewalk. Immediately after he got on the sidewalk he walked towards the deceased and fired. He took a step or two towards the deceased after the shot was fired and looked down on the deceased. After the shooting the girl screamed and fell back into the restaurant.
Sergeant Makes Stament
That either Cooper or Kiely said "Now come on, leave me alone" immediately before the shooting, was the statement of Sgt. Miles C. Cope, 104th Aero squadron. I was about 20 feet away, to the south of the Club House cafe door when the shooting occurred. I heard someone say, I won't be positive which one - the defendant or the deceased - say, "Now go on,. leave me alone." This attracted my attnetion and I turned, and as I turned I saw the defendant (Cooper) fire the shot. The defendant and the deceased were standing close together, almost against each other. Cooper laid the gun almost against the deceased's body. When I turned, Kiely (the deceased) had his right hand up in the air about even with his shoulder. It looked to me like his hand was in a natural position. I have known Kiely since November of last year. He was in the 10th Aero squadron.