Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A Russian lumberjack named Charles Aleck walked into the offices of the Spokane Daily Chronicle, approached city editor Edward Hiram Rothrock, asked, “Are you the editor?” and then shot him dead.

Aleck stood over him and fired another shot. Men in the office overpowered Aleck and held him for police.

And it was all due to a lumber camp “joke.”

Aleck later told police that men in the Idaho lumber camps at Bovill and Potlatch had tormented him and accused him of “unnatural practices.” Then they told him that the Chronicle had written a story about him, with headlines as big as the Titanic story.

Aleck, who apparently couldn’t read English, believed them. He got on a train and went to the Chronicle offices. He went to the front desk and demanded they “take back the story.” The confused clerk asked him to write his complaint down and come back.

He came back the next day and asked for the editor. When Rothrock asked him what he needed, Aleck pulled a pistol he had purchased the night before.

Rothrock was a graduate of Spokane High School and Stanford University. He had worked at the Chronicle since 1898 and was “very popular with the staff.”

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