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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today: Man kills two at hotel then shoots himself

From the Feb. 9, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle.  (S-R archives)
From the Feb. 9, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Spokane was shaken by news of a double murder/suicide at the Waldorf Hotel, on First Avenue. Elmer Harding, 30, shot his brother Carl, then shot his wife, and then shot himself.

The slayer’s stepdaughter, Emma Field, 16, witnessed the shootings and told police what had happened.

Emma said she was in the hotel room with Carl and her mother when Elmer knocked at the door. Her mother refused to let her husband in because “Elmer beat her often – mama was black and blue from being beaten.”.

A half hour later, Carl Harding left to go to work, perhaps thinking that his brother had left. He hadn’t. As soon as Carl went out the door, Emma heard “a shot and a groan.”

“Then Elmer ran into the room and shot mama,” said Emma. “He didn’t say a thing, just shot three times.”

She ran out of the room, and Elmer Harding turned the gun on himself.

Also from the shooting beat: On the same day, a Spokane firefighter, John Batten, was fatally shot under bizarre circumstances at a Deep Creek farm.

The slaying was discovered when the fire chief became concerned after Batten failed to show up for his shift. The chief knew Batten had been going out to visit an old friend Harry Williams, 84, at the farm. The chief found Williams tending his cows and asked where Batten was. Williams said, “He’s dead.”

When the shocked fire chief asked what happened, the old man said Batten had “walked into a trap.”

Police were still trying to piece together what happened, but it appeared that Williams had rigged up a rifle pointed at his front door so that it would discharge if someone opened the door.

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