Dick Paradiso Slays Pierce
Five Bullets Fired Into Body of victim in Front of Market Street Cafe
Both Former Officers
Slayer asserts Victim was Drinking and Threatened to Wreck His Place
Chattanooga Times, March 30, 1936
Fred L Pierce, 46, former police officer, was shot and almost instantly killed by R.N. (dick) Paradiso, also an ex-policeman, in the entrance to the latter's Blue Front cafe, 427 market Street, late last night. The shooting was attributed to a dispute which followed an exchange in ownership of the restaurant, formerly managed by Pierce. Brewing since late yesterday afternoon, when Pierce, employed by Paradiso since the latter assumed management, came to work allegedly intoxicated, the ill-will sharpened when Paradiso called police on two occasions during the night and asked them to eject Pierce.
Shortly after 11 o'clock a car driven by Mrs Pierce stopped in front of the building. pierce, leaving his wife in the machine, stepped out and walked toward the restaurant entrance, partially blocked by Paradiso. neither spoke a word. Jerking out a .32-caliber revolver as Pierce came near, Paradiso fired five of the six bullets in the weapon. Pierce whirled toward the left and ran about thirty feet toward Fifth Street. he fell with six holes in his body, two evidently made by the same bullet.
"I had to Do It" Paradiso turned to Bill Murray, resident of the Bell apartments, and asserted: "I had to do it," Murray later related. According to Raulston Schoolfield, Paradiso's attorney, the shooting was brought on by Pierce. "Fred had been working there since he sold out last Monday, and tonight," Schoolfield said, "he came to work drunk, Paradiso told him to take the night off, but didn't fire him. They got into an argument and Pierce left, declaring he was coming back and tear up the place."
Police confirmed the statement that Pierce was ordered out of the restaurant twice when Paradiso appealed to police headquarters for aid. Mrs Pierce, an eyewitness, said her husband had been drinking, but was not creatin any disorder. "He went there for his privilege license, hanging on the wall, and nothing else," she asserted. "I was driving the car around town and he told me to drive up to the front of the restaurant a few minutes after 11 o'clock. He didn't say a word to Dick and he didn't have a gun. Dick just began shooting and my husband tried to get away."
A search of Pierce's pockets in the Newell sanitarium, where he was taken by persons whose names were not learned, failed to reveal a gun. When the shooting began, Officer W.C. Girton was in the rear of the restaurant. Officers Clay Ivins and Jack Shasteen were walking from Fifth and Market streets toward the building and Officer Sam Renshaw was in the immediate vicinity. They and Capts Roy Hyatt and W.R. Carter arrested Paradiso, charging him with murder. he declined to make a detailed statement. Mickey Keith, who said she lives on West Fourth street; Ruby Glennie, 207 West Fourth Street; Murray and William Byrd, counter men employed in the restaurant, were also witnesses. Byrd's version of the shooting was at variance with the stories told by the others. He asserted he heard the two men engaged in a dispute a second before the pistol shots rang out.
Pierce joined the police department Sept 7, 1930, and was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Eugene J Bryan on Dec 7, 1935. Paradiso established a reputation as a whiskey raider when he was on the police force some years ago Since that time he has been in the restaurant business next door to the Cameo theater, operating the Cameo Lunch room. Last Monday, he assumed operation to the Blue Front cafe.
A World War veteran who saw overseas service, Pierce is survived by his wife, Zula Mae; five brothers, Claude A of Philadelphia; J.M., John U and Earl, of Knoxville, and W.W. Pierce of Chattanooga; three sisters, Mrs J.M. Stanfield and Mrs Louise Moore, of Chattanooga, and Mrs I.A. Hall, of Cleveland. Pierce resided at 411 Dodds Avenue.
Submitted by Curtis L. Pierce