February 24, 1920: Duluthians gather to examine “bullet holes” at murder scene 

On this day in Duluth in 1920, “hundreds” of Duluthians lined up outside the Palladio Building to look at alleged bullet holes thought to have been made by bullets fired at Dr. Carl Hoppman, who had been shot to death in front of the building two days earlier. According to local historian Heidi Bakk-Hansen, Norwegian immigrant and barber Casper M. Nelson had a grudge against Hoppman and fired six shots at him while he walked down a crowded Superior Street sidewalk. Two of the shots met their mark, one going through the back of Hoppman’s head—tearing off “half the skull”—and the other grazing his chest. No one else was injured. The Duluth News Tribune reported that among the hundreds eager to see the bullet holes were some “know-it-alls” who “took satisfaction in explaining to other onlookers how they were nearby and saw the holes immediately after thy were made by the bullets.” But Joseph McCarthy, who worked in the building, set the story straight, explaining that the holes were drilled into the building some years earlier so that a sign could be fastened to the building. A large chip in the brownstone trim, however, was indeed caused by bullets fired by Casper. So why did Nelson shoot Hoppman, and was he found guilty? Find out by reading Bakk-Hansen’s entire account of Hoppman’s murder here.

The ornate entryway to Duluth’s lost Palladio building. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)