A Slavonian Editor Who Took No Chances.




Outcome of an Old Feud in the Greek Colony.




He attacked Editor Gopchevitch, Who Retaliated With Four Bullets – Worse Than Mafia.


B. M. Gopchevitch, proprietor of the Slavonian newspaper Srbin-Amerikanac, with office at 709 Montgomery street, shot and seriously wounded Aristo Bulaich, on Montgomery avenue, between Vallejo and Green streets, about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon.

Gopchevitch was walking along the avenue when Bulaich assaulted him with a pistol. The editor was taken unawares and received a second blow over the head before he could collect his senses. The first blow broke his tiff felt hat and opened the scalp in front, while the second rap came upon one side of his head and staggered him. He grabbed his assaulted in a frantic embrace, holding Bulaich’s arms in a vice-like grab. Then it was Bulaich’s turn to get frightened, and he shouted: "Take his gun away!"

A pistol was taken from Gopchevitch’s pocket, but the editor it seems was prepared for emergencies, as he drew a second revolver from another pocket and blazed away at the belligerent Bulaich.

His account is that he shot to save his own life, but some by-standers declare that the pistol was taken from Bulaich, and after that Gopchevitch fired. Several policemen were on the scene immediately and placed both men under arrest.

Gopchevitch and Bulaich were taken to the Receiving Hospital in the patrol wagon. The former had only two slight wounds in the forehead, which were quickly dressed, and he was sent to the old City Prison.

Bulaich was badly wounded. Four shots had hit him, two on the left hand and one on the left wrist, the bullets going clear through. The fourth struck him on the chin, knocked out several teeth in his lower jaw and lodged in his throat. Drs. Deane and Bushneil attended to his wounds, which although painful, are not considered dangerous. Owing to the wound in his throat Bulaich was unable to talk.

They were both charged with assault to commit murder.

"I was walking up Montgomery avenue," said Gopchevitch, after he had returned from the old City Hall prison, "to a furniture store where I had bought some goods. When I had got between Vallejo and Green streets, on the left-hand side going up, some one whom I did not see at the time, slipped up behind me, and the first thing I knew hit me on the head with a pistol.

"There," he said, taking off his Derby hat, "you can see where the butt of the revolver went through, striking me on the forehead. It almost paralyzed me, and before I could recover I was struck a second time, not quite so hard. I reached out and grappled the man who struck, whom I now could see was Aristo Bulaich. As I grappled hold of him, another man I could not see came behind me. I heard Bulaich call out: ‘Get his pistol!’ and the next minute my gun was taken from my right-hand pocket.

"I had another pistol in my left-hand pocket. I reached for it. When I got it out I began firing, and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by policemen.

"This trouble dates back since 1864, and commenced about the purchase of the Russian Cemetery, which lies between those of the Masons and the Odd Fellows. A society had been formed and money raised for the purchase of a cemetery. The trustees purchased three acres for $6500 and then deeded one acre of that to the cemetery association fro $17,000. What they did with the money they got from the rest of the land I don’t know. In my paper I pointed out that the trustees had not accounted as they should have done. Shortly afterward the church on Powell street, near Union, where all the records were kept, was burned, and again I charged in a Srbin-Amerikanac that this had been done to cover up crookedness.

"That’s the cause of the persistent enmity against me. Men have been hired to assassinate me, and I have to go constantly armed to protect myself. One time, I think in January or February, 1892, a fellow called ‘Pistol Bill’ was hired to take me out to Ocean View and kill me. I was on my guard, however, and he got no chance. He afterward confessed, and the man who paid him the money was arrested. The case against him was never pushed.

They have sent me challenge after challenge, have made all sorts of threats against my life, and once, while walking on Stockton street, I was attached and cut about the face.

"I came to San Francisco in 1877, and for years worked as a car-conductor, and then in the United States Land Office. I was also Special Agent in the Census Department, going to New Orleans to investigate the fish industry there.

"On my return I was employed in the coining department of the mint, which I left May 22, 1893, and established my paper - the first Servian paper ever published out of Europe.

"Many men among my people had a grudge against me. Among them were: M. Chuda, L. Jovovich, L. Churich, L. Ivancovich, Bulaich and others more or less prominent in our colony. They started a paper to break me down because I took a stand against them, and when I was driven to write the truth about them they had me arrested for criminal libel. The case was dismissed, but I was persecuted in every way imaginable, First I was challenged by Bulaich and Churich, then by E. P. Paulovich and L. Jovovich on Vallejo street, after that by Bulaich and Nick Balocelac at Montgomery and Merchant street. After the libel suit was dismissed Bulaich went around asking for me.

"He fired two shots at George Chichich at 15 Vallejo street a month ago, but was dismissed by Judge Low. Two weeks ago we met on Montgomery avenue and asked him what he meant by asking for me. He passed it off and we did not meet again until to-day."

The trouble which seems interminable in the Greek-Slavonian-Russian colony goes back as far as 1864 or 1865 when their society was started. E. Chelovich and S. Martinovich were appointed a committee to buy a cemetery and they bought two and three-quarters acres for $6300, keeping two acres for themselves, so it is claimed. Through this deal $17,000 passed from the society’s treasure, and then the society fought among themselves. In 1864 Gopchevitch became a member. E. Chelovich about the same time made application in the Superior Court to sell the old cemetery and asked the city for a new site.

An opposition of 600 members was organized and Gopchevitch took a leading part. The committee of the inside broke open some graves Saturday night and Sunday during that excitement and cared remains away to the new cemetery on Point Lobos hill. Friends of the desecrated dead brought suit against L. Jancovich and others.

Then Bishop Vladimir interfered. He called a meeting of the society to regulate the financial difficulties. Gopchevitch was elected president, and acting as such demanded bills and vouchers for alleged expenditures amounting to $40,000. He was then attacked by five or six men on Stockton street, and once in the Greek church his life was attempted. Never a voucher was produced, but the church and records went up in flames.

It was then estimated that about 300 members of the society had remained in good standing for ten years, paying $1 each a month. Besides there were several donations, which are supposed to have reached a total of $15,000. The money disappeared, but not in channels of benevolence. Affairs stood in this defiant attitude when Bishop Vladimir said, "let them go," and the guilty ones were never prosecuted.

Since then, as various exciting incidents in the Servian editor’s life go to show, his way has not been a path of roses.

Bulaich is a member of the Servian and Montenegrin Literary Club, and two or three dozen of his fellow-members called at the hospital to see him last night. Among them were: L. Churich, president of the club; S. Radulovich, S. Jovovich, B. Vidovich, Vladimir Jovovich and N. Bjelopoljac.

Being unable to speck, from the fact that the bullet is still in his throat, Bulaich, at the request of these gentlemen, wrote a statement of what led up to the shooting, which, translated, is as follows:

"I was walking along Montgomery avenue, on my way to Merchant street, when I met Gopchevitch coming in the opposite direction. I asked him, ‘When did I ever apologize to you for anything?’ he having said in his paper that I had made an apology to him.

"Without deigning to answer me he put his hand in his hip pocket, and I said, ‘You needn’t pull out your gun.’ Then I struck him on the forehead with my fist. Gopchevitch pulled out his gun and I pulled out mine.

"A crowd had gathered, and seeing each of us with a gun they jump in and took mine from me. Then they took his away and told us to fight it out. Gopchevitch had another gun in his pocket and he quickly pulled it out and began firing at me. The first shot struck me in the jaw. I held up my left hand to protect my face and received the other bullets in it. That is the truth."

Bulaich’s friends are bitter in their comments against Gopchevitch and they blame him for being the sole cause of fomenting strife among the Slavonians in this city. They say he has for years used his paper to terrorize and scandalize Slavonian families, which has made him universally detested.

"That man," said S. Radulovich, pointing to Bulaich, "has fifty friends in the city to one for Gopchevitch. Like all good Slavonians he has felt keenly the insults heaped upon us by Gopchevitch in the paper which he owns.

"Seven months ago he published in his paper an open challenge to fight any of us and told us that if we didn’t accept the challenge he would go to our homes and whip us there. He has attacked our president in his paper, a young man who is respected by every Slavonian in the city.

"He was the originator and fomented the trouble in the Russian church here some years ago. In fact, he is never pleased unless he is creating trouble."

"Nine years ago," said Vladimir Jovevich, "when I was sick he sneaked up behind me on Washington street, between Gough and Franklin, knocked me down, kicked me and ran away. He was arrested and fined. Seven years ago he knocked down L. C. Jancovich, an old man then 65 years of age, on Merchant street, between Montgomery and Samsome, and then ran away. The old gentleman would not prosecute him."

All had similar stories to tell about Gopchevitch and they said they would see that Bulaich’s interests were properly protected.

Bulaich is about 31 years of age and until recently was a waiter in the Mint Exchange, Commercial street.

Dr. Deane extracted the bullet from his throat last night.

The [San Francisco] Morning Call, Wednesday, September 19, 1894, p. 8:1.