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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: Sentence extended for notorious Spokane ‘bad man’

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

“Tiger” Fred Johnson, one of Spokane’s most notorious “bad men,” was sentenced to two additional years in the state penitentiary at Walla Walla, making a total of 37 years.

“‘Tiger’ is one of the worst criminals ever sent up from Spokane,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

He was originally arrested for a streetcar robbery, after which he engaged in a wild gun battle with police.

Then, he made several attempts to escape from the county jail – once in spectacular fashion. “Tiger” fashioned a weapon with a steel piece from his bed and knocked a deputy unconscious. Then he raced out of the courthouse and led police on a long chase. He scrambled down to the banks of the Spokane River and jumped in. Police fired numerous shots at the swimming “Tiger” and he was eventually hauled bleeding back to jail.

Undeterred, he later made a “dummy” in his cot, and attempted to fool deputies again.

He remained unrepentant after being sent down to Walla Walla. He was one of the men who started a five-day riot in the penitentiary during the summer. His role in the riot earned him the additional two years on his sentence.

From the war beat: An iron cage in Spokane’s federal building contained all of the weapons and other contraband confiscated from “enemy aliens” – Germans – over the year. The cage contained 12 rifles with bayonets, a dozen revolvers and two shotguns, among many other items.

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