“Secret agent? On whose side?”
-Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), Live and Let Die (1973)
RIP, Clifton James, who died earlier this month at the age of 96.
On this day in 1965, sixteen year old Michael Andrew Clark took up a position overlooking Highway 101 near Orcutt, CA and began shooting at cars as they passed. The night before the shooting spree, Clark stole his parents car and left his home in Long Beach, CA. He brought his father’s pistol and Swedish Mauser rifle (similar to the one pictured above) with him.
During the shooting spree, two people were killed at the scene. Twelve more were injured. One of the injured victims, five year old Kevin Reida, later died from his wound.
Police were called to the scene. As deputies and Highway Patrol officers closed in, Clark did what most of these twisted cowards do: he killed himself.
Wikipedia – 1965 Highway 101 sniper attack
Wikipedia – Swedish Mauser
IMDb – Targets (a 1968 movie that was loosely inspired by this incident)
On this date in 1953, a crew of robbers held up the Southwest Bank in St. Louis. The robbers didn’t get far with their loot; police officers confronted them as they exited the bank. In the ensuing shootout, a police officer and one of the robbers were injured, and two of the robbers wound up dead (one by his own hand). The story attracted national attention and was made into a movie in 1959 starring Steve McQueen. Officer Mel Stein, who shot and killed one of the robbers, played himself in the movie.
Check out this video about the robbery. It includes an interview with Officer Stein.
stltoday.com: A Look Back: Fast action foils bank robbery in 1953
On this date in 1934, the FBI went toe to toe with John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and their gang in a shootout that left an FBI agent and a bystander dead.
The gang decided to hide out at the Little Bohemia Lodge in northern Wisconsin. The owner of the lodge managed to get word to the authorities. FBI agents were dispatched to the scene.
As the agents approached the lodge, the owner’s dogs began to bark. Since the dogs barked incessantly, their warning was ignored by the gang. A few minutes later, a car approached the agents. Thinking that the gangsters were inside, they opened fire in an attempt to shoot out the tires. Shooting high, which often happens when firing on full auto, they hit all of the occupants of the car, and killed one of them. To make matters worse, they had the wrong guys. Dillinger and his crew were still inside the lodge.
Barking dogs you can ignore, but submachinegun fire will get your attention every time. Dillinger and the boys heard the shots and knew that the heat was on. They opened fire on the agents from the lodge. After throwing some hot lead at the G-men, the gang bolted for the door. Dillinger and two of his guys turned one way and made a clean getaway. Nelson turned the other way, and wound up at a nearby house in a car with the owner of the lodge and a neighbor.
A car containing two of the FBI agents and a local constable approached Nelson. Nelson pointed his gun at them, and ordered them out of the car. When they complied, Nelson shot all three of them. Agent W. Carter Baum was killed; Agent J. C. Newman and local constable Carl Christensen were injured.
The final tally: two dead (one lawman and one innocent bystander), four injured (two lawmen and two bystanders), no gangsters in custody.
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
-Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), The Godfather (1972)
On this date in 1999, two teenage losers looking for infamy (which I will not contribute to by naming them here) went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Colorado. The attack was originally planned to be a bombing using IEDs made from propane tanks. The killers planned to wait outside and shoot people fleeing after the bombs detonated, but the bombs failed to detonate due to faulty construction. At that point, the killers approached the school and began shooting people. They entered the building and continued their shooting spree. They eventually committed suicide in the school library after police had surrounded the school. Twelve students and a teacher died in the attack. Twenty-four students were injured.
Wikipedia – Columbine High School massacre
An hour and a half after the bombing, an Oklahoma State Trooper pulled over a car that did not have a license plate. The driver, Timothy McVeigh, was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. McVeigh was soon linked to the bombing by forensic evidence. The investigation led to accomplices Terry Nichols, Michael Fortier, and Fortier’s wife Lori. McVeigh, Nichols and Fortier met while they were in the Army. They were motivated by the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX by the FBI in 1993. The bombing took place on the anniversary of the raid.
McVeigh and Nichols were both convicted of murder and conspiracy. McVeigh was sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. Nichols was sentenced to life without possibility of parole. He is currently housed at the Administrative Maximum (ADX) facility at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, CO.
Michael Fortier agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for immunity for his wife and a lighter sentence for him. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a $75,000 fine. He was released after 10 1/2 years and disappeared into the witness protection program.
Some people believe that there were more people involved with the bombing. Theories include involvement by members of militia groups and middle eastern terrorists. The FBI dismisses these theories and considers the case closed.
Wikipedia – Oklahoma City bombing
Were There More OKC Conspirators?: The Elohim City Connection (Presents evidence of militia group involvement in the bombing)
JaynaDavis.com – From Middle America To The Middle East (Presents evidence of a Middle Eastern connection to the bombing)