Two Constables Shot And A Sergeant Missing
A terrible encounter, almost without parallel in Victoria, has taken place near Mansfield, between the police and four bushrangers. The particulars to hand are but meagre, owing to the intelligence having only been received at Mansfield yesterday evening, but they are of such a character as to show that four most unscrupulous ruffians are at large in the colony, and that no effort must be spared to secure them immediately. As will be seen from the following telegram, received last night from our Mansfield correspondent, two constables have been murdered, a third has had his horse shot under him, while the fate of Sergeant Kennedy is dubious:—
Mansfield, Sunday, 6 P.M.
“News has just reached Mansfield that Constable Lanigan and Scanlan have been shot dead by four bushrangers at Stringy-bark Creek, about 20 miles from here. Constable McIntyre, who escaped, has just arrived with the intelligence. His horse was shot from under him. Sergeant Kennedy is also missing. Sub-Inspector Pewtress, Dr. Reynolds, Collopy, and others left now on horseback to scour the country, and bring home dead bodies. The bushrangers are supposed to be the notorious Kelly’s party, for whom the constables were in search.”
The offenders referred to by our correspondent are two brothers named Edward and Daniel Kelly, for the arrest of whom warrants were issued some months ago for various offences, the most serious being a murderous attack made on Constable Fitzpatrick. The Kellys are well known as notorious criminals. Their father died a long time ago, and the family remaining consisted of the two brothers, their mother, and four young sisters. Edward is 22 years of age, 5ft. 10in. high, medium build, has a fresh complexion, dark-brown hair, and hazel eyes; whilst Daniel is only 17 years old age, 5ft. 6 in, high, medium build having a fair complexion and blue eyes. The former was arrested in1870 on suspicion of being the mate of Power, the bushranger, but was discharged owing to the evidence of identification being insufficient. In February, 1874, he was discharged from Pentridge, after serving a term of three years’ imprisonment for receiving a stolen horse. The younger brother was discharged from the Beechworth gaol in January last, where he had been imprisoned for three months for wilful damage to property. They lived between Winton and Greta, on the Eleven-mile-Creek, and their house formed a convenient rendezvous for criminals of all classes. Soon after the younger brother’s discharge in January last a warrant was issued for his arrest on a charge of horsestealing, and on the 15th of April Mounted-constable Fitzpatrick, of Benalla, proceeded to the house to apprehend him. Finding him there he at once placed him under arrest, but unfortunately for himself consented to allow his prisoner to take supper before leaving. Whilst standing guard over him, the elder brother, Edward rushed in and shot him in the left arm, two inches above the wrist with a revolver. A struggle followed, and the brothers, assisted by their mother and two men named Williamson and Skillion, soon overpowered the constable, and he was beaten to the ground insensible. On regaining consciousness, he was compelled by Edward Kelly to extract the bullet from his arm with a knife, so that it might not be used as evidence; and on promising to make no report against his assailants, he was allowed to depart. He had ridden away about a mile when he found that two horsemen were pursuing, but by spurring his horse into a gallop he escaped. Of course, on regaining safety he no longer considered the promise which he had made to the criminals as binding, but reported the affair to his superior officer. The result was that a number of policemen from the surrounding districts set out for the scene of the outrage, and arrested Mrs. Kelly, Williamson, and Skillian, who were all recently convicted at the Beechworth Sessions. The brothers Kelly escaped, and have ever since been at large. Vague reports as to their being seen in different parts of the north-eastern part of the colony were received, but the police for a long time could obtain no tangible trace of them.
For some months back the Government have been offering a reward of £100 for the capture of Edward Kelly, on the charge of shooting Constable Fitzpatrick. If the Kellys are concerned in this last affair, as there seems little reason to doubt, they must now be in league with at least two other ruffians as desperate as themselves; and four such characters make a formidable gang of outlaws. Sergeant Kennedy, who is reported as missing, was stationed at Mansfield under Sub-inspector Pewtress. The two constables who have been shot were both efficient members of the force. Scanlon was well known in Melbourne when stationed here, but that was a good many years ago. At one time he acted as orderly for the chief commissioner, and was subsequently told off for duty at the Theatre Royal.
Up to an early hour this morning the police authorities in town had received no intelligence of the affair, a circumstance which is perhaps to be accounted for by the probability that Sub-inspector Pewtress, of Mansfield, on learning of what had taken place from constable McIntyre, hastened off immediately to the scene of the encounter, and was unable for want of time to telegraph to Melbourne.