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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: Two gas station thieves were caught in gunfight at Mount Vernon hotel

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran front-page mugshots of John Swiggert and “Red” O’Brien on Aug. 2, 1921. The two men were suspects in gas station robberies nearly two weeks earlier.  (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran front-page mug shots of the two “desperadoes” who robbed two Spokane gas stations.

Neither of them were exactly “wanted” at this point. One was in a Mount Vernon hospital and the other was dead.

John Swiggert, alias John Higgins, was shot and killed by Mount Vernon police when they raided a hotel room. “Red” O’Brien, alias Earl Gerettity, was shot in the neck by police.

The two men had robbed two Spokane gas stations nearly two weeks earlier and then stolen a big Studebaker car from a local car dealer. They drove to the Coast and then apparently used the car to engage in liquor smuggling. That’s why Mount Vernon police raided their room. They were found in possession of the stolen car.

The chances that “Red” O’Brien would stand trial in Spokane were slim, since he had already been sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary for the gunfight with police. One deputy was wounded.

From the sanitation beat: Spokane’s health officer shut down the Uncle Sam Restaurant on West Main Avenue for a stomach-churning list of violations.

The inspector found “spoiled meat, spoiled fish, moldy squash, sour mush” and other articles.

“Seasoning might fool the palate, but the bacteria and filth could not fail to cause trouble in the system,” said the inspector. “We had warned the proprietor on several occasions, particularly after his last conviction.”

The proprietor was arrested and charged with violation of the health laws.