Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Eastern Washington: ‘Yeggmen’ were at it again robbing banks, this time followed by a shootout

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

A gang of yeggmen (safecrackers) attempted to rob the Reardan National Bank and then engaged in a pitched gun battle with police.

By the end of the day, 75 armed officers were in pursuit of the five-man gang, and the manhunt continued.

The drama began at 3 a.m. when the gang broke into the bank, intending to blow the safe. The wife of the bank’s assistant cashier heard the sound of breaking glass and notified the town marshal. The cashier and the town marshal armed themselves and saw the bandits inside the bank attempting to drill through the safe. They opened fire and the yeggmen fled in a waiting auto. The marshal fired at the fleeing car.

The town’s fire gong was rung and the alarm went out. A number of officers raced toward the town from Spokane and met the bandits’ auto as it fled in the other direction. The robbers pulled off the road and doused their lights. The police stopped and approached the robbers’ car, and gunfire rang out. One police officer was shot in the leg.

The robbers abandoned the car and took off on foot through the prairie and into a wooded area about 7 miles west of Fort Wright. Police even enlisted the use of an airplane to fly over the area to see if they could spot the fugitives. As of late afternoon, the hunt continued.

Reporters on the scene of the gun battle noted “rows of shotgun and rifle shells were strung along” the Sunset Highway.

From the court beat: Louis Adams took the stand in his own defense in his murder trial and claimed that he never intended to kill Joe Garcio. He said Garcio, a neighbor with whom he had been feuding, reached his hand in his pocket during an argument and he thought “maybe he had a gun or something else to kill me with.”

The Chronicle said Adams often became “excited and confused” while on the stand. The judge had to admonish Adams to speak more quietly and distinctly.

More from this author