★☆★ OFFICER SILAS MART'S ★☆★
By: Keith Dameron, Historian – Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial
Officer Silas Mart's 43, was shot and killed on October 08, 1903, inside the Palace Drug store near 2nd and Main in Pueblo. Officer Marts was attempting to arrest Dr. Charles 0. Rice, 44, who was drunk on alcohol and morphine and armed with a .45 caliber Colt revolver. About 8:00 pm Rice had become 'crazed'. He threatened the employees and customers and chased them from the store. A crowd estimated at 1000 people eventually gathered and police held them held back not knowing what Rice would do. Finally about 9:30 pm Officers Marts and Daly entered the building and attempted to talk to Rice in a friendly manner. Dr. Rice waited until Marts was about 8' away and then fired one shot which struck Marts in the neck. With Daly's help, Marts was able to stagger out of the store and across the street. He was attended to immediately but he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital from a severed jugular vein.
Officer Elwin Slater was outside and the crowd was jeering the police officers. Slater determined that he would sneak in and crawl around to where Dr. Rice was. About 9:45 pm he entered the store with his hand on his holstered gun. As he moved to a crouched position a gunshot was heard and Slater was shot in the right leg. He was helped out of the drug store and taken to the hospital. Investigation afterward found that Slater had partially drawn his gun and accidentally shot himself when he crouched down. The bullet left a hole on the inside of his holster and entered his thigh which caused internal hemorrhaging. He died the next day, October 8, at 5:12 pm believing that he'd been shot by Dr. Rice but that was not the case.
The drug store did not have a rear entrance and that hampered the efforts to capture Dr. Rice. Just before Officer Slater entered the store others were working on a different plan. Detective F. Rubichaud, Assistant Fire Chief Campbell and Firefighter Davenport had gained access to an adjoining business, went to the basement, removed a partition and found Dr. Rice passed out in the basement of the drug store. Rice was arrested and charged with murder. Dr. Rice had been the family physician for the Marts family for 12 years which may be why he thought he could talk Rice out of using the gun.
Silas Martz (Marts) was born in Ringgold County, Iowa, in November, 1859, to Charles and Lucinda Martz. He married Cora Johnson in Colorado Springs on December 21, 1890. He was survived by his wife and daughter Myrtle, 12. Elwin Merrill Slater was born in Illinois in April, 1856. He married Zilpha May Eno in Tonica, Illinois, on February 27, 1881. He was survived by his wife and three children, Lee Roy, 21, Joseph, 17 and Ethel, 13.
A double funeral ceremony was held on October 11 at the First Baptist Church at 9th and Court. Both were remembered for their dedication to duty and the love they showed to their families Over 2,000 attended and it was noted that several hundred carriages were in the procession to Riverview Cemetery (now called Roselawn Cemetery) where they were buried side by side.
Dr. Rice was so drunk that he didn't remember anything that occurred that evening. He apparently had a problem with alcohol for some time prior and had recently started adding cocaine and morphine to the mix. A trial was held in December and Rice's defense was 'temporary insanity'. A number of doctors testified to that and Rice was found not guilty by a jury on December 31, 1903. Rice died from cancer in 1922 at the age of 63.
Cause of Death: Accidental Discharge
Deputy Chief Ronald A Gravatt (retired) Pueblo PD