Gates, Night Watchman John H.

night-watchman-john-gatesEnd of Watch: April 18, 1916

Medina Village Marshal’s Office

Age: 60

On April 18, 1916, Medina Village Watchman, John Gates, 60 years old, went to work like he did so many other nights, fulfilling his obligation to make sure the businesses in village were secure. At some point during his rounds and during the “deserted hours of the morning” Gates apparently sat down to rest on a ledge in front of E.P. Hartman’s Grocery Store facing the historic square in Medina.

It was at this point that Gates was approached by Henry Blakeslee, the 48 year old village marshal, a position in which Gates had previously served. Blakeslee, who was in possession of a 16 gauge double barreled shotgun, apparently had ongoing issues with Gates. Seconds after the initial meeting, two shots rang out in quick succession. A couple staying in a local hotel looked out in time to see the assailant running away from the spot where Gates was later found lying dead.

A search to find Blakeslee regarding the incident was fruitless. However, Blakeslee’s discarded uniform coat was found in the basement of a nearby clothing store. It contained two live shotgun shells that were identical to two empty casings found at the scene.

After an exhaustive 8-hour search, Blakeslee was found hiding in a hay maw in his neighbor’s barn. Blakeslee had a self inflicted gunshot wound. Although seriously injured, he was treated and eventually recovered from those wounds. His shotgun was found under the neighbor’s couch. Henry Blakeslee’s case was subsequently presented to a grand jury who indicted him on first degree murder charges. He was tried and found guilty of manslaughter and received a sentence of one to twenty years.

Night Watchman John Gates served with the agency for eight years. He was survived by his wife Katie and four children.