this day in crime history: may 23, 1934

She was an honor student with a talent for creative writing. He was an ex-con and habitual criminal with a preference for Fords and Browning Automatic Rifles. On this date in 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and gunned down by a posse led by (semi)retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.

Further reading:

Crime Museum: Bonnie & Clyde

Wikipedia – Bonnie and Clyde

The Bonnie and Clyde Festival in Gibsland, LA

“The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” a poem by Bonnie Parker

Frank Hamer at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

9 thoughts on “this day in crime history: may 23, 1934

  1. Another good book about the Barrow Gang: Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn.
    They were called the Barrow Gang at the time; “Bonnie and Clyde” came about as a result of the movie (very entertaining, but not very truthful).
    They were looked down on by their contemporaries; John Dillinger called them white-trash gas-station robbers, which is actually close to the truth.
    They also killed more law enforcement officers than Dillinger, Nelson, or Floyd. If they hadn’t been ambushed by Hamer, they would have been electrocuted in Texas, Oklahoma . . .


    • I haven’t read that book, but I’m familiar with it. Actually, the gang’s exploits were more of a regional story. They didn’t really get much in the way of national exposure until B&C were killed.

      Some people condemned Hamer’s ambush as a straight-up hit that gave no opportunity for B&C to surrender. While I think this is a fairly accurate characterization, I wouldn’t condemn Hamer for it. Clyde’s willingness to shoot cops at the drop of a hat, and his weapon of choice (the Browning Automatic Rifle) made him too dangerous to mess around with. If Hamer and company had tried to take Clyde alive, they would not have succeeded. And at the very least, they’d have lost a posse member or two.

      As for Clyde’s record at killing LEOs, I think you’re right about him having killed the most among the outlaws you mentioned. Dillinger killed one cop in an E. Chicago, IN bank robbery (probably his only murder victim). I’m not sure about Floyd’s record for killing LEOs. I guess is depends on whether he was present at the KC massacre, and how many people he actually killed there. There was some evidence of fratricide in that shootout. As for Nelson, he holds the record for killing FBI agents (three), but I’m not sure if he killed any local or state LEOs. Like Clyde Barrow, he had a hair-trigger personality. Although I tend to think Nelson was more sadistic than Clyde. Clyde once took a cop hostage and released him unharmed. I doubt Nelson would’ve let the guy go. Clyde was desperate to stay out of prison, but Nelson had a screw loose.


  2. John D.:
    A riveting story.
    And the comment by Old 1811 was something that not many people know about the Barrow Gang.
    (just added another book on my “gotta-get” list.

    Roll safe out there.


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