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100 years ago in Spokane: The ongoing feud between two fruit merchants ended when one of them shot the other

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

A six-year feud between two Italian fruit merchants ended in tragedy when one shot and killed the other on the platform of the Nash-Spokane Fruit Warehouse.

The accused gunman, Louie Adams (or Adamo) told police that he and Joe Gracio (or Guarascio) used to live practically next door to each other. Six years before, they’d had an argument over money.

They had little to do with each other since – until both of them showed up at same time to buy fruit at the warehouse.

“Witnesses said an argument ensued, the talk being Italian; that after five minutes of talking they clinched,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle wrote.

They broke away, it was said. Adams then pulled the gun and fired six shots, three of them finding their mark. Gracio fell, witnesses said, after which Adams turned the gun on Vic Gracio, a son of the dead man, and snapped it on an empty shell.

Adams, still waving the gun above his head, surrendered to police. Adams claimed self-defense, saying Gracio attacked him with a hammer. Witnesses said Gracio picked up the hammer only after he had been shot.

Adams was a former saloonkeeper turned fruit and confection merchant. About 10 years earlier, he had shot and killed another man and claimed the man was a prowler preparing to rob him. Adams was apparently not charged in that shooting, but in this one, he was being held without bond on first-degree murder charges.

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