|1922 reward poster for John Looney.|
(Public Domain image sourced from Wikimedia Commons,)
Two local newspapermen exchanged bullets and bad words on the streets of Rock Island, Illinois on the afternoon of February 22, 1909.
The trouble had been brewing for nearly a year and stemmed from when W. W. Wilmerton purchased a controlling interest in the Rock Island News from John Looney. Just hours after the deal closed a dynamite bomb tore through the Looney building, destroying the paper’s press. That same year, three mysterious fires ravaged the same building.
Wilmerton didn’t let any of that stop him. He renamed the paper the Tri-City Morning Journal and moved its operations to a different location.
Three weeks before the current troubles began, Looney reestablished The Rock Island News and began printing crazy tirades about Wilmerton and his family. Wilmerton took most of the allegations in stride. What he couldn’t overlook was an article Looney published saying he had breaking news that would land Wilmerton in prison.