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October 2, 1921: Jalmer Heikkinen’s Murderous “Orgy of Shooting”

On this day in Duluth in 1921, Jalmer “John” Heikkinen (also spelled “Hikkinen”), shot and killed Waino Pauttu at the People’s Hotel, a Finnish boarding house and the former Bethel building at Lake Avenue and Sutphin Street in Duluth’s Uptown, today’s Canal Park Business District. The two had been arguing over the affection of 16-year-old Anna Arvola and Heikkinen was reportedly also upset over Pauttu’s claim that he had a bigger nose than Heikkinen. So Heikkinen went to his room, retrieved a revolver, and shot Pauttu at 2:10 a.m. Following the shooting, Heikkinen disappeared until 4:20 a.m., when he showed up at the Palmer House Hotel at 108 West 1st Street and shot and wounded proprietor John Maki, an old friend of Heikkinen’s. Maki’s wife said that Heikkinen had visited the hotel often to call on the Maki’s and Miss Arvola. When he fled, Heikkinen encountered patrolman Conrad Lading; the two exchanged gunfire, and a bullet shattered Lading’s left arm. Chief Warren Pugh ordered the entire police force after Heikkinen. Three officers including Detective Herman Toewe spotted him walking up the Thompson Hill road. Toewe shot Heikkinen in a running gun battle, after which the shooting suspect was arrested and brought to St. Mary’s Hospital. Read about the crimes and their aftermath here.

Jalmer Heikkenen. (Image: Zenith City Press)