Friday, August 31, 2012


8/30/1933 - Murderous as always when pulling a robbery, members of the Barker-Karpis Gang heist a payroll in South St. Paul and bullets go flying again!  After watching the routine for weeks of money bags being delivered from the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, the gang (Alvin Karpis, Freddy Barker, Doc Barker, Byron Bolton, Charlie Fitzgerald, and Fred Goetz) attacks at 9:45 in the morning.  Guards and carriers surprised and surrounded, wielding a sawed-off shotgun, Doc Barker yells "Stick 'em up," at police guard Leo Pavlak and the officer complies, but when Fitzgerald fires his weapon to get the attention of one of the police officers, the tipsy Barker, thinking he is under attack, yells "You dirty rat son-of-a-bitch" and puts a mortal load of shotgun pellets into Pavlak's head.

                                                           Arthur "Doc" Barker

And with that gunfire, everyone else cuts loose too with the weapons they are carrying, including a bystanding railroad signal man who will wound outlaw Fitzgerald in the leg.  In the ensuing maelstrom of lead released chiefly by the machine guns of Freddy Barker and Bryan Bolton, Officer John Yeaman, who has been sitting quietly in his car waiting for his partner, is seriously wounded when he takes a bullet that goes through his cap and hits him just above his right eyebrow, along with hits to the shoulder and neck that will have him carrying twenty-five bullet fragments in his body for the rest of his life.

                                                           Freddy Barker

Guards down, bank messengers Joe Hamilton and Herbert Cheyne wisely abandon the money sacks they had been carrying ... treasure the gang is quick to scoop up.  Then, sweeping three blocks of the city with suppressing machine gun fire, the gang roars out of town in an heavily armored black sedan driven by Karpis (in his autobiography he will describe the robbery as "a good day's work) with the fruits of their bloody 10 minutes of labor ... $33,000 in cash and bonds.

                                                              Alvin Karpis

The local newspaper compares the robbers to Jesse James and calls them "cool and reckless."  Reckless indeed, on the force only four months, Patrolman Leo Pavlak leaves behind a widow and four children.

                                        Patrolman Leo Pavlak | South St. Paul Police Department, Minnesota

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