Gun facts suggest Hunter S. Thompson was murdered
Police reports say that the pistol Hunter Thompson used to allegedly kill himself was found with six rounds in the magazine but none in the firing chamber. Experts quizzed by this reporter have pointed out that the Smith & Wesson 645 semi-automatic pistol does not have a “manual cycle,” the feature in a gun which was cited by law enforcement in an article by Deborah Frazier and Jeff Kass, of the Rocky Mountain News on March 2, 2005, to explain how the Thompson pistol could have been found with six rounds in the clip (the magazine) but none in the chamber. The experts said that in every firing event, the S&W 645 will cycle a new round into the chamber as long as there are bullets in the clip.
Police performed no ballistic tests to confirm that the round which killed Thompson was fired from the weapon found at his feet.
A link to the owners manual for the Smith & Wesson 645 was furnished by the experts HERE.
Pitkin County Deputy Ron Ryan told Rocky Mountain News that the gun’s magazine had six bullets left in the clip, but no bullet was found in the gun’s firing chamber.
Police immediately found it odd that, given the manner in which the S&W 645 operates, there was no bullet in the chamber. Pitkin County Investigator Joseph DiSalvo told Rocky Mountain News that:
“I think a bullet from the magazine should have cycled into the chamber, but if there’s a malfunction, they may not,”
The Rocky Mountain News reports:
“DiSalvo said he hadn’t checked the gun, but the weapon could have been on a manual cycle that would have stopped the other bullets from going into the chamber.”
But the S&W 645 has no “manual cycle.” Barring a highly improbable malfunction, a new round would have inevitably been jacked into the firing chamber. The possibilities which remain are:
– That a highly improbable gun malfunction occurred,
– That someone had handled the gun after Thompson was dead, and manually ejected the round from the chamber. Thompson obviously could not have,
– That the weapon was not the murder weapon, and was laid at Thompson’s feet without being fired.
In the official police report by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Ryan apparently referred to the existence of a manual cycle feature, when he wrote:
“I examined the handgun and observed that it was a Smith and Wesson model 645, bearing serial number TBM1244. The de-cocking lever was forward and the gun had an external hammer that was in the rear-most position. I removed the magazine and observed that there were apparently six rounds in the magazine. I did not remove the rounds to confirm the number present. I pulled the slide to the rear and observed there was not a round in the chamber, which is consistent when a semi-automatic handgun is restricted from its normal motion when fired.”
If the gun does not have a manual cycle feature, which would require the operator to perform an action to put a new round into the chamber after each shot, then there is no explanation of what could have “restricted” the handgun “from its normal motion when fired.”
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s report indicates that the gun had not been touched by anyone, such as Thompson’s son, in order to eject a round from the chamber. Deputy Ryan states in the report:
“I saw a handgun on the floor at the right foot of Dr. Thompson. I also saw a handgun case with a lot of blood on it which was partially covering the gun.”
Moreover, Thompson’s son was not even sure which gun his father had allegedly killed himself with, telling police, and noted in the report, that he thought he had used a .357, not the .45 caliber Smith & Wesson.
If correct, the expert testimony must count as new evidence suggesting, to a high level of probability, that an alternative explanation of how Thompson came to be found dead is possible. The absence of a manual cycle feature introduces a strong suggestion that Thompson did not pull the trigger of the gun and then drop it, as authorities contend, and that therefore he was murdered. Thompson’s land was easily accessed through the forested land surrounding it.
Many of the circumstances surrounding Thompson’s death have aroused suspicion among so-called “conspiracy theorists,” but until now no one, to this reporter’s knowledge, has verified this detail of the alleged suicide weapon.
Among gun owners and enthusiasts, Smith & Wesson has a high reputation for reliability. The S&W 645 is especially famed for the reliability of its feeding action. The gun experts quoted wish to remain anonymous.
One source said:
“It is a double-action pistol. The Model 745, built from 1986-1990, was a single-action target version of the Model 645.”
“I’m unaware of any pistol other than the 39 Smith that has that feature. Now, there are manually cycled pistols, such as the Semmerling LM4. But they don’t give the option of being fired as autoloaders.”
A third source said:
“No, there is no button or control to make this happen on a 645.”
Other unusual occurrences in the Thompson death which have been raised by skeptics all along are the sounds described by witnesses. Thompson’s wife was on the phone with him when she said she heard a “clicking of the gun,” that she later assumed was the gun firing, and Thompson’s son Juan, who was in an adjoining room, said he heard a sound like a book falling. The S&W 645 is a .45 caliber gun which issues an extraordinarily loud report when it is fired. On the other hand, more muffled noises, and in particular clicking, can be heard if the gun is fitted with a silencer.
Deputy Ryan in the police report wrote:
“I asked Juan if he heard the shot. Juan said he heard a dull sound not a sharp crack typical of a gunshot.”
Thompson’s son Juan was in a room directly adjoining the kitchen where the death occurred, according to the police report. A gunshot from a .45 caliber handgun would be an extremely loud, alarming sound heard even well outside the house.
The below video demonstrates the sound of a .45 semi-automatic pistol, when fitted with a silencer, to be a clicking sound, unlike the sound commonly heard in movies. Thompson’s wife described the sound as “clicking.” The video also demonstrates the deafening volume of a .45 caliber weapon when fired, for which ear protection is standard recommended practice due to likely ear damage otherwise.
The “dull sound” described by Thompson’s son could have been the sound of the bullet entering the wall or surface it struck after it passed through Thompson. The sounds described by the witnesses seem to be more consistent with the sound of a gun with a silencer than with the very loud, sharp crack of an unsilenced .45 caliber weapon.
In addition, the police told the Rocky Mountain News that a spent cartridge was found at Thompson’s feet. Semi-auto pistols, and in particular the one Thompson allegedly used, eject the cartridge to the side forcefully and for some distance. Unless it bounced off a wall or an object, a spent cartridge would be unlikely to wind up at Thompson’s feet.
Skeptics of Thompson’s manner of death have also noted over the years that Thompson was upbeat at the time he allegedly killed himself, having just called his wife to come home from her gym to work on an upcoming article for ESPN Magazine. They also note that an autopsy was never performed on Thompson to verify the absence or presence of any drugs or alcohol.
“Conspiracy theorists” have made much of an obituary by Paul William Roberts, an award-winning journalist for the Toronto Globe and Mail and a friend of Thompson’s, in which Roberts portrays a fictional, satirical phone call in which Thompson confides that he is working on an story which threatens to expose the US government’s role in 9/11. The phone call depicted in the obituary, which mimics Thompson’s unique journalistic style, is, however, fictional. The Toronto Mail and Globe tribute is entitled “Alexander Pope in a Prose Convertible.”
However, Roberts later suggested in a radio interview that Thompson was in actuality working on a Washington, DC gay, underage male prostitution ring which threatened to expose powerful figures.
In 1989, The Washington Times broke open a story of a call boy service operating within the George HW Bush White House, which was then linked to a child sex-slave ring which was making the news, at the same time, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Trailer to documentary of child sex slave ring in DC
Thompson was also an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, once writing:
“Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us; they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.”
On March 4, 2005, the New York Post ran a piece which cited “serious irregularities” surrounding Thompson’s death.
“There are some serious irregularities surrounding the demise of the gonzo author, who was found shot to death in the kitchen of his Woody Creek, Colo., ranch on Feb. 20, and local cops seemed to have done a lackluster job of investigating.”
Thompson’s wife and son have publicly accepted that it was a suicide. However, if Thompson’s death was in fact a murder, members of the family may be under threat as well.
This reporter welcomes the further input of gun experts who believe they can disprove the experts cited here, and show that in fact the Smith & Wesson 645 semi-automatic pistol does indeed possess a manual cycle setting, which would support the police version of the manner of Thompson’s death. Absent this, nothing but a vastly improbable malfunction of the gun found at Thompson’s feet would explain the absence of a round in the chamber of the gun. That, or the involvement of another person in the shooting, entering and exiting the kitchen by stealth. Given the statistical unlikelihood of a malfunction of Thompson’s gun, and the unusual nature of the sounds heard by those present, evidence exists to warrant the re-opening of the investigation into Thompson’s death.
[Full disclosure: this writer was and is an avid personal admirer of Thompson’s life and work.]