The hunt was on for a “fiend” who attacked a farm family near Wilson Creek, killing a 19-year-old man, injuring the slain man’s father and attempting to carry off a 13-year-old girl.
More than 250 men from four counties were scouring the Wilson Creek country, about 95 miles west of Spokane.
Wilson Creek residents reported that a stranger had been hanging around town the last few days. A day before the shooting, he had gone out to the Joe Bongiorni (sometimes spelled Bonjorni) ranch to hunt rabbits.
The next evening, Joe and his son, AugustBongiorni, 19, were doing chores in the barn when the stranger suddenly appeared, brandishing a pistol. He ordered both men to turn their backs and put their hands behind them. They complied, and Joe said, “Don’t shoot at me, I haven’t done anything to you.”
The gunman replied, “This is a good time to make a cleanup.”
Then he opened fire.
August died instantly of two gunshots, and Joe fell wounded from three bullets.
Mrs. Bongiorni heard the gunshots and ran toward the barn, but the gunman fired at her and chased her back in the house. He came inside, aimed his gun at her but did not shoot – possibly because he had used all of his bullets. Then he seized 13-year-old Margaret Bongiorni and tried to drag her out of the house. Mrs. Bongiorni attacked him with a pick handle and he “dropped the girl and ran.”
Mrs. Bongiorni and her son rode to a nearby ranch, phoned police and called for aid for Joe Bongiorni, who had wounds to the face, ear and right arm. Doctors said he had a “fighting chance” to recover.
Police were working on the theory that this was the same “fiend” who had attacked a farm family near Olympia, two weeks earlier. The gunman used the same words while attacking them.
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