Marshal John E. Mugan
Oceanside Police Department


Date of Birth: December 26, 1864
Date Appointed:
End of Watch: September 24, 1916
Reprinted from Oceanside Blade
Sept. 30, 1916


As the result of the shooting of city Marshal J.E. Mugan of Oceanside, Sunday morning, Sept. 24, which resulted in the officer's death a few minutes later, Patrick Burk, well known as a night watch and deputy sheriff, is in jail in San Diego with a charge of murder in the first degree against him.

The shooting occurred about eight o'clock on the sidewalk in front of Trotter & Hosp's billiard room and took place in the presence of nearly a dozen people. Mugan had just walked down the street in company with Dan Thomas and stopped on the edge of the sidewalk in front of the poolroom. Burk, whom numerous witnesses state to have been under the influence of liquor, advanced with the remark, "I'll get him!" and drawing his pistol flourished it in Mugan's face, an instant later pulling the trigger. The bullet a .38-caliber, entered at the base of the neck in front and came out at the right shoulder blade. Mugan walked into the poolroom, and for an instant leaned upon a table, a moment later before anyone could reach him falling to the floor. So sudden and unexpected had been the shooting that many in the room did not realize that the bullet had taken effect until the wounded man lay gasping in the throes of death.

Woodie Jones and Charles Goss immediately seized and disarmed Burk who was again flourishing his weapon. Will Trotter arrived in a few minutes and telephoned the Sheriff's Office and Burk was turned over to Deputy Constable Spencer until taken into custody by a deputy who came up from San Diego.

The outstanding fact of the tragedy is the total unexpectedness of it. Marshal Mugan apparently had not the least warning of any hostile intentions of his assailant as evidenced by the fact that though he was armed he did not draw his revolver, which was found in its sheath on the body. So far as testified by witnesses, the only thing said by Mugan was to remark, "What are you trying to do?" as Burk flourished the deadly automatic in his face and Mugan's only action was to raise his hands in an attempt to ward off a blow from the weapon.

The inquest was held Monday morning at Smith's undertaking parlors and was in charge of Coroner Marsh. The district attorney's office was represented by Attorney Adam Thompson of San Diego. Numerous witnesses were examined. In general it was testified that Burk had just returned from San Diego where he had been drinking. It was testified that Burk asked, "Is he dead yet? I hope I got him!" Witnesses also repeated the several remarks in which Burk alluded to the deceased officer in abusive and indecent terms either previous to the shooting or as he approached him just at the time of the shooting. T.R. Lovell, a Santa Fe employee, testified that several days before he heard Burk make the statement that if Mugan ever came down the railroad yard he would "get him." J.T. Chellis stated that a little while previous Burk said to him "I would like to get just one poke at him!" referring to Mugan. C.E. Bates, who was standing in front of the Chellis barber shop at the time Burk passed down the street, testified to hearing Burk make the remark that he would "get both of them" apparently referring to Mugan and Dan Thomas who was standing with him and whom he afterwards is said to have threatened with his pistol. Tom Webler, Joe Hayes, and others gave testimony to having heard these or similar remarks. Adam Thompson, attorney for Burk, asked a few questions of witnesses during the examination but as no complaint had yet been filed against his client took but little part.

The examination took several hours, a shorthand reporter from the district attorney's office taking the testimony in detail. After a brief deliberation the jury returned a verdict that "deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound in the neck at the hands of Patrick Burk, murder." Burk was then taken back to the county jail by Sheriff Conklin who had brought him up for the inquest.

Tuesday, a charge of murder in the first degree was filed against Burk by the district attorney and the preliminary hearing was set in Justice Keating's court in San Diego for October 6.

The funeral of City Marshal John E. Mugan was held Tuesday afternoon. The funeral procession left the Smith undertaking parlors at one o'clock and proceeded to San Luis Rey where the services took place in the mission, interment being in the mission cemetery. The services were in charge of Rev. Fr. Casimer and were attended by a large concourse of sympathizing friends from Oceanside and the surrounding country, a number of comings from San Diego to be present. Many beautiful floral offerings testified to the universal respect and regard in which the deceased was held and gave proof of the sympathy of the community for the relatives in their sudden and tragic bereavement.

The pallbearers were chosen from the city officials and consist of City Trustees Rorick, Neal and Franklin, City Clerk Brodie, City Treasurer Mathews, and Recorder James. The city flag, the flags on the city schools and many other buildings in town were at half-mast during the day as a mark of respect to the departed officer.

John E. Mugan was born in San Francisco in 1864 and had resided in that city until he became of age. His life was spent in the Southwest where he engaged in mining in California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. In the latter state he was a peace officer for years being Deputy Sheriff at Tonopah and Under Sheriff at Las Vegas, Nev., for five years or more.

He came to the Oceanside section in 1889 and had resided in this county most of the time since then. He was for several years connected with the San Diego Police Department where as in many places he had warm friends who were shocked to learn of his death.

Of his immediate family, Mr. Mugan is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Q.S. Sparks of Oceanside; Mrs. May Jonas of Tonopah; and Mrs. M. Sheridan of Los Angeles.