From The Los Angeles Daily Herald (April 10, 1874):
“A Serious April Fool Joke
The Folly of Practical Jokes-One Man is Killed and Another Wounded.
A terrible affair occurred at Salinas City on the 6th inst. The parties concerned were named Downey and Dennison. The tragedy grew out of a harmless joke perpetrated on Downey April 1st. Some of the young folks at Diamond’s Hotel on All-Fool’s day sent Mrs. Dennison to Downey’s room with a letter containing the words, ‘April Fool.’ Dennison saw her coming from Downey’s room, when he was taken with a fit of jealousy and reproached her with bitter words; she retorted in the same kind, a separation was agreed upon, and proceedings commenced for a divorce. Much ill feeling between the parties concerned has been the result. Dennison, it is said, told his mother-in-law, Mrs. Warren, that one of them must die before the day was over. Going down to Cropley’s saloon, he saw Downey and called him out to speak with him. They passed through the narrow hall to the rear of the building. In the back yard Dennison said to Downey, ‘You are the G-d d-d s-n of a b-h that has caused my trouble.’ Downey then struck him with his fist and knocked him down. Dennison then drew his pistol and Downey sprung for him, and the pistol was discharged, the ball striking Downey in the left side, coming in contact with one of his ribs and glanced around it and came out near the spine. Downey then seized and wrested the pistol from him when Dennison turned and ran through the saloon and up the street, followed by Downey. When in front of Winn’s Chop House he stumbled and fell, when Downey fired, his shot taking effect in the right temple, coming out near the top of his head on the left side. Downey was arrested and placed in charge of the Sheriff, and was taken to a drug store, thence to his room at the hotel. He still continued to smoke a cigar which he had in his mouth all the while. He said, while being taken to the drug store, ‘If I am mortally wounded, I want you all to know that he shot at me first.’ Dennison was taken into the chop house until a surgeon came, who upon examining the wound said: ‘I can do nothing for him; only let him die in peace.’ He presented a ghastly sight, the blood and brain trickling from the bullet hole.
The body was taken to the Coroner’s office and his wife sent for. Her grief was intense. Her cries and tears were pitiable as she stood weeping over the body. He lived but a short time, and did not seem conscious or speak after the fatal shot was fired. His brother, who lives in Santa Cruz, has been sent for and will be here to-night. An examination will be held as soon as Downey is able to be brought into court, if his injuries do not prove fatal.”