Robert Bradley, a.k.a. the Apache Kid, was a gunfighter at Ghost Town for years before the Maggie Valley amusement park went belly up. He returned to the job when current owner Alaska Presley reopened Ghost Town. Presley bought the shuttered park out of bankruptcy and foreclosure in 2012 and has worked to revive since.
After running into several problems — including burst water pipes, vandalism and failed state safety inspections — Ghost Town had started to gain some positive momentum. In July, however, the 69-year-old veteran gunfighter Bradley was injured during one of Ghost Town’s famous gunfights.
During the production, Bradley is “shot” by an enemy carrying a shotgun and falls backward, dead. In reality, a blank is fired in his direction and Bradley feigns injury.
But that time, something actually hit Bradley in the right thigh and just missed his femoral artery. At the time of the incident, Bradley was able to lie out of view of the spectators until the show ended and his coworkers could call help.
Everyone discounted the injury as a freak accident. However, Bradley now has repeatedly said that he doesn’t think it was accidental. He doesn’t blame the fellow gunfighter who actually fired the shotgun, saying he trusts the man. Bradley has his own ideas of what happened and who is responsible, but he doesn’t have proof.
Presley stated that Bradley’s assertion that it was intentional is preposterous.
“There is no truth in it,” Presley said. “I can certainly say that.”
For Presley, there are only two options.
“It was self-inflicted or else an accident. I don’t know which,” Presley said. “I can’t prove either one at this point.”
What can be said, however, is that something remains in Bradley’s leg. An X-ray shows a small round object of a similar density as bone lodged in his right thigh.
“It had to be something big, something heavy,” Bradley said.
Doctors knew the object was in Bradley’s leg still but did not want to move it since it is so close to his femoral artery; they might do more damage than good by trying to get it out.
According to Bradley, the object is some type of metal. In his opinion, it is definitely a bullet — a bullet that someone placed in the shotgun without the other gunfighter’s knowledge to intentionally harm him.
“There had been people there that I had been arguing with,” Bradley said.
The police interviewed Bradley for the first time last week after he spoke with the police chief about his theory. Bradley said he hopes the police will investigate the incident further.
“I have waited for four months for somebody to listen to my side of the story,” Bradley said.
Although Bradley said the case was not being investigated, Maggie Valley Police Chief Scott Sutton said the case was never closed.
“It’s been an open investigation the whole time,” Sutton said.
The Maggie Valley Police Department investigation has moved in tandem with an inquiry by the N.C. Department of Labor into safety concerns at Ghost Town. The state received a complaint, claiming that no one trained in first aid was present at the park at the time of the injury and running water was not available for people to wash blood from Bradley’s injury off their hands.
The two entities have even staged reenactments of the shooting multiple times up.
Presley has refuted the complaint and thinks the report will find no safety violations.
“I am sure I already know what the results are,” she said.
As far as the police investigation goes, it was hindered from the get-go. Bradley’s injury came in as a medical emergency call, not a police call, so officers did not talk to spectators and get witness statements. The tourists who were there watching the gunfight are now gone.
The doctors at the hospital also threw away flecks of material pulled from Bradley’s wound, meaning police could not examine it as evidence in their investigation. Even if there is a bullet lodged in Bradley’s leg, that fact alone is not enough proof to convict anyone of a crime.
“We have to prove criminal intent,” Sutton said.
Presley said she has tried to ignore the rumors swirling around about how she allegedly treated Bradley and other gunfighters.
“The best thing for me to do is let it run its course, and let the truth come out,” she said.
Interestingly enough, both Presley and Bradley stated that they only want what is best for Ghost Town and have worked hard to make the park succeed only to see others demean their work.
“They would not be knocking it like they are if they cared about the people of Haywood County and Ghost Town,” Presley said. “All they are doing is doing all they can to hurt the mountain.”
“Everything I was doing to build it up. I watched her tear it down,” Bradley said.
Gunfighter sues to retrieve Ghost Town memorabilia
Former Ghost Town in the Sky gunfighter Robert Bradley, who stopped working at the amusement park in Maggie Valley after getting injured on the job, has sued owner Alaska Presley.
Bradley is trying to recover memorabilia that he claims is his from the Ghost Town museum. The museum is one of the newly created attractions added after Presley purchased the then-shuttered amusement park on the courthouse steps last year. It features photos and other knick-knacks from Ghost Town’s storied past.
Specifically, Bradley has asked for 150 black and white photos enlarged and mounted on foam board, eight prints of paintings by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, a mounted steer skull with long horns and a mounted Dall Sheep rams’ head — all of which he valued at $4,800.
According to Bradley, he returned to Ghost Town a couple days after he was fired —Presley contends that he quit — to clean out his office. Then, he was planning to head to the museum to collect his belonging, which are on display there. However, Bradley said he was told by Presley said he would have to sue her before he could get the items back.
Meanwhile, Presley has asserted that the items in the museum are the property of Ghost Town and therefore not Bradley’s for the taking.
“They belong to Ghost Town. I don’t think they belong to him,” Presley said.
According to Presley, the photos in particular have resided at Ghost Town for many years, even before she reopened the park.
“I don’t know why he wants them now,” she said.