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100 years ago in Spokane: Fatal shooting started with dispute over woodpile, prosecutors say

A dispute over a woodpile led to the fatal shooting of Joe Gracio by a neighbor, Louis Adams, prosecutors told a jury 100 years ago today.  (S-R archives)
A dispute over a woodpile led to the fatal shooting of Joe Gracio by a neighbor, Louis Adams, prosecutors told a jury 100 years ago today. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The prosecutors in the murder trial of Louis Adams (sometimes rendered Adamo) told jurors that the most mundane of neighborhood disputes – an argument over a woodpile – was the event that set the tragedy in motion.

Adams had blocked an alley with his woodpile. One of the neighbors called in a complaint and the fire department came and ordered it removed.

Adams lost his temper, pointed at the home of his neighbor, Joe Gracio, and began cursing in Italian. The irony was, Gracio was not even the neighbor who called in the complaint.

But the dispute simmered. Gracio told his wife that he planned to tell Adams to “be more careful about his language in the presence of women.”

Three days later, both men spotted each other while purchasing produce at a warehouse.

Gracio went up to Adams and started a conversation. Adams became angry. Then Adams pulled a revolver, and “with an Italian oath on his lips,” fired at Gracio.

The first shot missed, but Adams fired four more shots, striking Gracio all four times. Then, Adams walked up to the wounded man and clubbed him several times with his revolver. Gracio soon died of his wounds, and Adams surrendered to police.

The trial continued, and the defense would soon present its case.

From the medical beat: A 5-year-old girl died of infantile paralysis – polio – at a Spokane sanitarium.

This was the fourth polio death in three days in Spokane. The girl was from Troy, Montana, and had come to Spokane to get treatment.

The city health officer once again reassured anxious parents that the disease was not of “epidemic” proportions in Spokane. Yet he urged parents to seek immediate medical attention as soon as a child showed the slightest signs of illness.

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