this day in crime history: september 22, 1975

SJMoore

On this date in 1975, 45 year old Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, CA.  The attempt–which came seventeen days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme tried to kill the President–was foiled by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.  Sipple, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, grabbed the gun as Moore pointed it at President Ford.  The gun discharged, but the bullet missed the President.

Moore had previously been investigated by the Secret Service, but they concluded she was not a threat.  Well, nobody’s perfect, not even the feds.  She was arrested on an illegal weapons charge the day before the assassination attempt, but was released by the police.  I guess the local cops aren’t perfect either.

Sara Jane Moore was convicted of attempted assassination and sentenced to life in prison.  She was paroled on December 31, 2007 at the age of 77.

Further reading:

Time – “The Assailant: The Making of a Misfit”

Wikipedia – Sara Jane Moore

this day in crime history: may 2, 1946

 

On this day in 1946, an aborted escape attempt led to what became known as the Battle of Alcatraz. The incident began when convicted bank robber Bernard Coy attacked guard William Miller as he frisked inmate Marvin Hubbard in the prison’s C Block. Coy and Hubbard were able to overpower Miller. They then released inmates Joseph Cretzer and Clarence Carnes from their cells.

Coy climbed up to the block’s elevated gun gallery, which was unattended at the moment. He had previously noted a flaw in the bars protecting the gallery which allowed him to use a makeshift tool to widen the bars. Once he had done that, he managed to squeeze through the bars and into the gun gallery. When guard Bert Bunch returned to the gun gallery, Coy overpowered him and relieved him of his keys, rifle and pistol. He also availed himself of other items in the gun gallery, including clubs and gas grenades.

Coy lowered the keys and weapons to his accomplices, keeping the rifle for himself. He then moved to D Block where he forced a guard, at gunpoint, to open the door to the cell block. About a dozen inmates left D Block, which was used as a disciplinary block. Most returned to their cells. Two of the inmates, Sam Shockley and Miran Thompson, joined the would-be escapees.

The inmates’ plan was to get out of the prison, make their way to the dock using hostages as human shields, then use the prison launch to get to the mainland. The next hurdle they faced in their plan was unlocking the door to the outside. After multiple unsuccessful attempts with the wrong keys, they finally found the right one. Unfortunately for them, the lock was damaged from having the wrong keys shoved in it. They were unable to open the door.

While the inmates were fighting their losing battle with the lock, several other guards wandered onto C Block, unaware that inmates had seized control of that part of the prison. They were taken hostage and put in cells. The number of hostages eventually reached nine guards, who occupied two cells.

Frustrated by the uncooperative lock, Cretzer opened fire on the hostage guards, wounding five. One, William Miller, later died from his wounds. Coy used the rifle to fire on guards in the prison towers. Thompson, Shockley, and Carnes elected to return to their cells. Coy, Hubbard, and Cretzer decided to stay and fight.

An assault by guards was met with gunfire. Officer Harold Stites was killed and four guards were wounded. Warden James Johnston called for help from the military. Two platoons of Marines were sent to help with the assault on C Block and to assist in guarding the other inmates.

That evening, a contingent of guards engaged in a rescue operation to free the hostages while armed guards exchanged gunfire with the three inmates. Once the hostages had been rescued, guards and Marines subjected C Block to a barrage of fire using, machine guns, grenades, and mortars.

Early the next afternoon, the inmates telephoned the warden in an attempt to negotiate a deal. There was no deal to be had, short of unconditional surrender, which was unacceptable to Coy and his accomplices.

The barrages continued through into night. The next morning, armed guards entered the cell house to find Coy, Hubbard, and Cretzer dead.

Inmates Thompson, Shockley, and Carnes were all convicted for their roles in the escape attempt and the death of two guards.  Thompson and Shockley were sentenced to death. Carnes received a life sentence, but was released in 1973.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Battle of Alcatraz

Alcatraz History – Battle of Alcatraz

going the extra mile(y)

Apparently, pop music’s junior bimbo queen, Miley Cyrus, recorded a cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You." The song appeared on Zep’s self-titled first album, and was itself a cover of a folk song by Anne Bredon. I guess Miley thinks this might confer on her some sort of musical gravitas. I’m not sure why she thinks she’s lacking in that department. Didn’t going out in public wearing pasties, swinging naked on a wrecking ball, and twerking on stage with a big foam finger already bestow boatloads of credibility on Billy Ray’s little girl? If not, she can always record a music video for this song. Wearing nothing but a few strategically placed Post-it notes. Yeah, that ought to do the trick.

this day in crime history: may 30, 1937

mdm1937

On this date in 1937, ten unarmed demonstrators were shot and killed by Chicago Police outside the Republic Steel mill. The demonstrators were members of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. They were on strike against Republic and other steel companies that had refused to sign a labor agreement similar to one reached with U.S. Steel, the largest of the American steel companies.

On Memorial Day, hundreds gathered at SWOC headquarters and prepared to march on Republic Steel. As they neared the mill, their path was blocked by members of the Chicago Police Department. The protestors were told to turn back. When they refused, the police answered with tear gas, billy clubs and bullets. Ten of the protestors were killed, dozens more were injured.

A coroner’s jury would later rule the deaths as “justifiable homicide.”

If you’d like to judge for yourself whether deadly force was justified, check out this video of the incident. The violence starts about five and a half minutes into the video. Not a great moment in Chicago Police history.

Further reading:

Wikipedia: Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

Chicagoist – Flashback: Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

fantasy cruising

It’s supposed to go up to 65 today. Sixty-freaking-five! After the brutal winter we’ve just had, that’s a welcome relief. I just wish I could enjoy the nice weather. Instead, it looks like I’ll be spending most of the day cooped up in my office. I’d rather be out cruising. Preferably in a convertible, like the Mustang pictured below. With the top down, of course. And I’d need some tunes cranking. I’m in an 80s hair metal mood, so some Motley, Def Lep and Scorpions would do the trick.

If you were to be out cruising, what kind of vehicle would you want to be in? And what tunes would you be cranking?