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Police Chief William Meredith is killed on June 25, 1901.
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On June 25, 1901, former Seattle police chief William L. Meredith (1869-1901) is shot through the heart in Pioneer Square following a confrontation with saloon owner John Considine (1868-1943) and his brother Tom Considine (1857-1933).
Corruption the Background
During his brief tenure as police chief, Meredith had targeted Considine's operations for investigation. In retaliation, Considine put the chief in a bad light by claiming in a City Council committee hearing to have been solicited for bribes by police.
As a result of this revelation, Meredith was pressured into resigning. Mayor Thomas J. Humes (d. 1905) immediately accepted his resignation.
A Brief Struggle to the Death
Meredith, additionally inflamed by Considine's accusation that he had impregnated a female contortionist named Mamie Jenkins, sought revenge. He acquired a sawed-off shotgun and stalked Considine. He waited at the Yesler and Occidental cable car station until he saw the Considine brothers entering the Guy's Drugstore on 2nd Avenue. He followed them and fired the shotgun but managed only to wound John, who called to his brother for help. In a 90-second scuffle, Tom Considine fractured Meredith's skull. John Considine grabbed the former police chief's revolver and shot him in the heart.
John Considine was arrested for murder. He was acquitted in November 1901 based on a defense argument of "continuous struggle."
The event marked a political struggle labeled the "open town" issue, which concerned the opening of the city to saloons, casinos, and other establishments that catered to Alaska gold seekers. The Considine brothers benefited from this open town policy, but others alleged it contributed to corruption and violence.
Richard C. Berner, Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991), 35-36; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 26, 1901, p. A-1.
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