Unsolved Assassination

[PRIVATE RESIDENCE - Do not disturb.]

A shot rang out, glass broke, and down went the former Spokane Police Chief, John Sullivan, in his own living room. On Jan. 5, 1911 the former Chief of Police was assassinated by a gunman in the house that you are standing in front of now. The gunman approached the side of the house and fired a single shot which went through the window and rocking chair, and penetrated Sullivan's back. Sullivan was able to crawl to the telephone to call for help.

Before the assassination attempt, John Sullivan gained many enemies during his tenure as Police Chief. Sullivan attacked the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) during their Free Speech Fight with harsh ordinances which caused great tension between the two parties. The local newspaper, The Spokane Press, supported the Wobbly movement and accused the chief of graft, corruption and misconduct in an attempt to have him removed from office. Sullivan was finally removed from office but retained his duties as a captain.

Another enemy that Sullivan gained during his career was a man named S.J. Hanley that had shot the captain once before during an attempted arrest. Hanley had bragged to other inmates that he would exact his revenge on Sullivan and was released from prison right before the assassination attempt. Dennis Sullivan, John's brother, believed that John was assassinated because John was going to be a witness in a trial against the corrupt city government. John Sullivan though, while laying in his hospital bed (before his eventual death), told people that The Spokane Press was responsible for the shooting. And a man in Alabama even bragged of killing a Police officer in Spokane but that was never proved either. The case still remains open.


John Sullivan Assassination
Images Courtesy of the Spokane Daily Chronicle and Spokane Law Enforcement Museum
View File Record