A Murderous Sweep

All K. Tanimura wanted to do was clean the carpets at the Hotel Angelus at 407-411 S. Spring St. The sweeper, however, was broken so he sought help from the hotel’s carpenter, S.E. Thomas.

Thomas was busy and told Tanimura (also rendered in The Times as Taki Mura and Tani Mura) to use another one instead. The men argued and began fighting.

Tanimura left to get a kitchen knife with the blade ground down to 5 inches and told Thomas “I’m going to kill you.” He nearly succeeded, almost severing Thomas’ right arm before another hotel employee, Louis/Lewis Haney, intervened.

“Thomas kicked at him and then the Jap went to work on him with his knife as fast as he could,” Haney testified during Taniumura’s trial. “Thomas’ right arm was cut half off and there was a gash on his forehead from which the blood ran down into his eyes. He was cut three times in the back too.”

Morris Friedman, tailor at the Angelus, testified: “I heard something and I look out of my shop. I see the carpenter chase the Jap out of his shop and gave him a few lickings. The Jap, he say: ‘I’m going to kill you.’ In a minute he came back and when I saw the fight I went right back into my shop.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Tanimura said Thomas called him a ______ Jap, struck him in the face and chased him from his shop.

“I went around the hall and got my knife. Then I went back and asked the carpenter if he wanted to fight. He said yes and kicked at me, and then I cut him with the knife to defend myself. After I cut him several times, he knocked me down and tried to choke me. Then the man took my knife.”

Tanimura was sentenced to two years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon.

Footnote: On May 21, 1917, a Hotel Angelus guest announced—rather loudly—that she had found an alligator in her bed. Investigation quickly revealed that J.M. Dromage, a tourist from New Orleans, had purchased a souvenir during his visit to the local alligator farm. Although Dromage improvised a cage in his hotel room until he could return to Louisiana, the alligator escaped. Dromage promised to keep his new pet in the hotel basement until his return home.

It’s unclear exactly when the hotel was torn down. The address is now a vacant lot.



About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Homicide, LAPD, Streetcars. Bookmark the permalink.

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