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Looking Back: Feb. 7, 1936 shooting in Paso Robles results in two deaths 

Click here to read the full front page of the Saturday, February 8, 1936, Extra Edition of the Paso Robles Times

Editorial summary from Saturday, February 8, 1936, Extra Edition of the Paso Robles Times

“A drunken row, which ended in death for Jesse Sledge, 45, of this city, and serious injuries to two others, came to a climax about 6:30 last night at the home of Freitas Gerst, on Chestnut street, near 16th. “

Sledge died from his wounds at Atascadero Hospital. Gerst, 48 and Earl Pickering, were wounded but survived. The shooting was witnessed by Betty June Sledge, the 10-year-old daughter of Jesse Sledge.

Witness accounts allege that Ralph Hagerman, 32, began shooting after an argument broke out and Sledge was fatally shot while attempting to wrestle the gun away from Hagerman. Hagerman’s account is that Sledge had stolen Hagerman’s pistol and shot Gerst and Pickering then himself.

Saturday morning, Feb 8, Hagerman, arrested for the fatal shooting of Sledge, leaped to his death from the second story window of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, where he was awaiting questioning by District Attorney M.R. Van Wormer.

Read previous Looking Back articles

This “Looking Back” view at Paso Robles history comes from one of the hundreds of local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. Several local newspapers, dating from the 1800s, have reported on local, national and world events, providing priceless historical views of our community that are not available from any other source. The Historical Society is seeking community support for the multi-phased Newspaper Preservation Project to help fund the transfer of these aged and fragile pages to microfilm and digital images. See the society website for more information about becoming a member or donating to any phase of this project.

The Paso Robles Daily News is pleased to support this important project. Watch this space for future “Looking Back” articles.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at