“DEADLY MORNING IN DELTA”

 — THE SHARPSHOOTER —

W. Ray Simpson sat at the front of the family hardware store in Delta, Colorado, cleaning his rifle, when gunshots shredded the early morning stillness. 

W.R. SIMPSON & SON HARDWARE

Across the street from the hardware store, Bill McCarty and his teenage son Fred walked into the Farmers & Merchants Bank on Saturday, September 7, 1893, pulled their pistols, and demanded money.

Inside the bank, Bill McCarty ordered co-founder and cashier 45-year-old Andrew Blachly to hand over all the cash. Blachly, a well-liked father of eight, resisted and hollered for help.

The shouting panicked the younger McCarty, who squeezed the trigger of his gun twice, striking the 46-year-old banker in the head, and killing him. 

When gang leader Tom McCarty, waiting with the horses at the rear of the bank, heard the shooting, he mounted up and rode off.

In the meantime, father-and-son snatched whatever cash they could, bolted out the back door, and ran to their horses.

When Simpson heard the gunfire, he chambered a shell into his .44 caliber Sharps, left the store, and ran down Third Street to the alley intersecting the bank.

According to one account, the two bank robbers spotted Simpson and fired at him. With a reputation as an expert marksman, the hardware merchant aimed and returned fire. 

The first bullet blew the top of Bill McCarty’s forehead away.

Witnesses said the outlaw’s son, Fred, reigned his horse to a stop, possibly with the thought of helping his father. But the maneuver proved fatal.

Simpson fired again, hitting the young man in the temple.

Delta citizens recovered most of the stolen money. But Tom McCarty escaped and seemed to have vanished.

McCarty supposedly made several threats about returning to kill Simpson but never followed through.

Historians believe he died in a gunfight in Bitterroot, Montana, in 1900.

Although the bank building was turned into a home and moved to a new location, Blachly’s eight orphaned sons placed a plaque at the bank site in 1958 to commemorate the tragedy.

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