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January 8, 1914: Duluth police officer shot in New Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1914, Duluth police officer Neil Mooney, 32, was shot by Jovan Zoria; Mooney would die 30 hours later at Dr. Graham’s hospital in West Duluth. Mooney had apprehended Zoria and his companion, Savo Rekich, both for carrying concealed weapons. Mooney had confiscated a revolver from each man, but Zoria had a second gun. He shot Mooney in the stomach while on the way to the police station. After he was shot, Mooney “grappled with the man carrying the gun and managed to get hold of the revolver. He beat his assailant over the head with the gun until both men ran away.” Mooney then crawled half a block to the Gary Realty office at Gary and Commonwealth Avenues, where a citizen assisted him and called for help. Zoria and Rekich, described as “Austrians,” were arrested the next day. Both worked at the Minnesota Steel Plant and lived in Gary and had been in the U.S. “only a few months.” Zoria confessed to being the trigger man and was indicted less than 36 hours after Mooney’s death; Rekich was charged with “carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to use it on some person unknown to the jury.” Zoria’s father, Sam, also worked at the Steel Mill. He packed his bags and left town, telling the Duluth News Tribune that he could not “remain here and be forever disgraced…I am through with him.” In court on January 12, Zoria insisted he alone was guilty and asked to start his life sentence immediately. The paper made note of the softness of the case: “Zoria may start life term before his victim’s body is buried.” Mooney, a native of South Boston, had joined the force in 1912. Chief Chauncy Troyer told the Duluth News Tribune the slain officer was “one of the best-liked men in the department” and one of its most able men.

Duluth Police Department badges introduced September 9, 1915. (Image: Zenith City Press)