“Brick” Johnson Murdered
John Bear Enters Saloon From the Rear and Shoots Johnson Through the Head
“Brick” Johnson, a notorious character of Wallowa county, was foully murdered in a saloon at Enterprise Monday evening at 7:30 by John Bear, a resident of the same city. Johnson had been tending bar in Ott Bros. saloon and on Monday afternoon Bear, who was intoxicated, attempted to crawl over the bar. Johnson prevented him from doing so and trouble arose. A number of Bear’s friends appeared on the scene and persuaded him to go to his home and leave Johnson alone or serious trouble might result.
About 7:30 Bear took his 30-30 Winchester and went to the saloon, entered the rear door and without any warning shot Johnson who was sitting on the bar shaking dice with friends, through the head, killing him instantly. Johnson or none of the men in the saloon could see Bear, as all were in the front of the saloon standing at the bar when Bear opened the back door and fired the fatal shot.
As soon as the bloody deed was committed Bear fled to Shackleford’s livery stable and commanded the keeper to saddle a horse for him. This the keeper refused to do and Bear went into the street and took a horse away from a small boy and begun his flight. By this time sheriff Blakely and a number of men were on the scene with guns and several shots were fired at the fleeing murderer. One shot struck the horse and brought him to the ground. Bear continued his flight on foot and was soon over the hill east of town and out of sight. It was dark by this time and the search for him was conducted with difficulty through a greater part of the night. During the night a shot was fired in the neighborhood where the search was being made and the sheriff’s posse concluded that Bear had killed himself and they returned to town.
Morning came and a posse of 10 men was organized and a search begun. Investigation revealed the fact that bear was still alive and possibly many miles away from the scene. The posse continued the search in the hills of Wallowa county until yesterday morning, when they returned to Enterprise.
Bear was raised in hills of the Imnaha section and it is said he knows every foot of ground from there to the Snake river and the country is broken and unsettled that it is very difficult to trace a fugitive of his character. He has relatives and friends in that section who are probably helping him in his escape and it will doubtless be several days before his capture is accomplished.
Word comes from Enterprise that should Bear be found and surrounded it will be a difficult matter to take him as he is a desperate man and a perfect shot with a rifle, and it is feared that several men will be killed ere he is brought to bay. Regardless of this fact however a determined effort will be made to get him.
Johnson, the dead man, is only a young man of 28 years. He grew to manhood in that county and had a reputation as a bad man and for several years was in a continuous round of trouble. He has figured in several shooting scrapes and bears the marks of five bullets, which were fired at him by deputy sheriff Luttrell, who was attempting to arrest Johnson a few years ago. Johnson very seldom got into trouble when he was not drinking, but when intoxicated he became desperate and feared no man. During two different sprees he attempted to commit suicide with a knife but failed. It is said however that he had been trying to reform for several months, and was leading a quiet life. Johnson leaves a wife, one child and several relatives. he was buried in the Enterprise cemetery Wednesday.
Elgin Recorder June 15, 1906