No one in Pendleton’s Fix-It Shop on December 23, 1907, was quite sure why George Bowles would point a pistol at his forehead and pull the trigger in the middle of the store, but fortunately for everyone involved, Bowles survived the attempt to end his own life.
Witnesses in the shop, located near the Lyman Meat Market on Court Street, stated that Bowles came into the establishment several times that day before noon to look at guns. The first time he requested to borrow a large-caliber pistol, saying he wanted to shoot rats. He returned about noon to look at pistols in a display case.
“I wonder what Sorenson will take for this one,” Bowles commented, taking a .32-caliber pistol from the display case. Soon afterward he was seen repeatedly snapping the gun, stooping down behind the counter each time. Others in the shop had no way of knowing that Bowles was loading the gun with long .22-caliber cartridges.
Bowles then pointed the pistol at his forehead and pulled the trigger, the ball lodging just under the skin. When the men in the shop rushed to pick him up, he was reported to have asked, “What have I done?” While Dr. J.A. Best was removing the ball, Bowles seemed confused as to what had happened. Afterward, the wounded man was able to walk to the home he shared with his mother on West Court Street.
Though Bowles was familiar to the employees of the Fix-It Shop, having visited the shop on many occasions, not much was known about him besides his suffering from rheumatism. He moved to Pendleton in 1905 and had just returned from Spokane, where he had been working, two weeks prior to the shooting incident. He also was reported to have had a considerable drinking habit, which many said contributed to Bowles’ rash action.