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Gee JON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Member of the Hop Sing Tong - Tong warfare
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 27, 1921
Date of birth: 1894
Victim profile: Tom Quong Kee
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Mina, Nevada, USA
Status: Executed by asphyxiation-gas in Nevada on February 8, 1924
 
 

 
 

Gee Jon was the first person in the United States to be executed by lethal gas. He was executed at the Nevada State Prison on February 8, 1924 for the crime of murder.

Gee, along with Hughie Sing were convicted for killing Tom Quong Kee in Mina, Nevada on August 27, 1921. The murder was one of many in 1921 because of tong warfare in the West. There were also murders throughout California.

Gee Jon was convicted of being the trigger man and Hughie Sing, because of his youth and the fact that Gee did the actual shooting, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison.

Gee Jon was twenty-nine when he died. He was born in China, but had spent most of his life in San Francisco's Chinatown. He was a member of the Hop Sing Tong.


1924: Gee Jon, debuting the gas chamber

ExecutedToday.com

It was the best of intentions. It was the worst of intentions.

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the forefathers’ standard means of dispatching an evildoer — a length of rope or a shot of lead — were under re-examination by a technophilic nation convinced its science could find a way to kill a man without inconveniencing him.

The first great American contribution — if you can call it that — to the the art of killing me softly was the electric chair, and its debut did not impress everyone.

Out west, grossed out by electrocution and inspired by the pestilent fogs that had lately enveloped World War I trenches, the Nevada legislature cottoned to the brainchild of one Dr. Allen McLean Hamilton to say it with cyanide.

Unfortunately, the logistics of billowing a plume of lethal gas directly into the prisoner’s cell to take the condemned asleep and unawares — another ostensible mercy that would have opened a path towards a Japan-like system of perpetual apprehension followed by sudden execution — proved insoluble; they had to build a little airtight room and give the procedure all the familiar ceremonial trappings.

That little airtight room was used for the first time ever on this date in 1924.

Its subject was Gee Jon, a Chinese-born resident of San Francisco’s Chinatown who had gunned down a member of a rival tong in the railroad town of Mina not far from the California border.

A minute or two after the sodium cyanide pellets hit the sulphuric acid to release a toxic cloud of hydrogen cyanide gas, Gee Jon fell unconscious. He remained in the chamber, shrouded in gas, for half an hour to make sure: later, the apparatus improved with the addition of a stethoscope to enable a doctor to declare death from outside the cell.

Good enough for government work.

The gas chamber would win a fair following in the American South and West, notably California.

However, the gas chamber’s questionable “humaneness” — including some stomach-churning dying panics by suffocating prisoners, and the paranoia of prison staff that a leak in the seals could give them a snort of HCN — never matched the dream of a zipless kill, and the Zyklon-B associations Nazis later provided did not boost public relations. With the onset of the (seemingly) more humane and (definitely) much cheaper method of lethal injection, the gas chamber vanished from the scene in the 1990’s.

Though it still remains a backup option in Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri and Wyoming, next month will mark a full ten years since the most recent — and quite possibly last ever — gassing.



Gee Jon

 

 

 
 
 
 
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