100 years ago in Spokane: After a muskrat attacked a police officer, a strange theory emerged about the root of the animal’s aggression

A Spokane patrolman claimed that he was attacked by a large muskrat near the Spokane River.

“Something bumped against my leg and I gave it a kick, then saw it was a big rat,” Officer WD Thompson said. “And would you believe it, no sooner had it hit the ground than it started right back at me and grabbed hold of my trouser leg. That was too much, so I took revolver out and shot the animal.”

He displayed the pelt as proof.

Why would a normally mild-mannered animal like a muskrat be so belligerent?

One of Thompson’s colleagues had a theory. He blamed it on the large amounts of confiscated booze that had been poured into the river.

“I’ve heard of one drop of moonshine making a rabbit fight a bulldog,” said Dan Phelan. “But the stuff they are making now surely has a greater kick, if it will make a muskrat fight a policeman.”

From the justice beat: County prosecutor William C. Meyer announced plans to summon “all persons having any knowledge of the Maurice P. Codd murder case” to testify before a grand jury in a week.

Codd had just been acquitted of tossing Frank P. Brinton over a railing to his death, but since then an outcry had arisen over possible perjury or witness tampering.

An unofficial citizen’s committee was also investigating, spearheaded by some of the people who witnessed the incident and tested for the prosecution.

So on this date

(From Associated Press)

1915: The first full-scale use of deadly chemicals in warfare took place as German forces unleashed chlorine gas against Allied troops at the start of the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium during World War I; thousands of soldiers are believed to have died.