this day in crime history: october 14, 1912

On this date in 1912, New York saloon keeper John F. Schrank shot former President Teddy Roosevelt in Milwaukee, WI. Roosevelt, who was running for president on the Bull Moose party ticket, was in Milwaukee to give a speech. Prior to the speech, he had dinner with advisers at the Hotel Gilpatrick. As he left the hotel, supporters waiting outside cheered him. Also waiting for the former president was John Schrank, armed and ready for action. As Roosevelt turned and waved to the crowd before getting into his car, Schrank aimed a pistol at Roosevelt’s head. Just before he pulled the trigger, a spectator named Adam Bittner struck Schrank’s arm, spoiling his aim. The bullet struck Roosevelt in the chest, hitting a glasses case and a fifty page speech before lodging in the former president’s body.

The crowd pounced on Schrank and began pummeling him. The beating continued until Roosevelt stood up and implored the crowd to show mercy to the man. The police arrived and took Schrank into custody. Roosevelt eschewed a trip to the hospital, and vowed to give his speech “if it’s the last thing on earth I do.” Roosevelt arrived at the Milwaukee Auditorium several minutes later and gave his speech to 10,000 supporters, the bullet still lodged in his chest. Roosevelt eventually lost the election, coming in second to Woodrow Wilson. The incumbent, Republican William Howard Taft, came in third; the only incumbent president ever to do so. The bullet remained lodged in Roosevelt’s body for the rest of his life (on the lower left in the x-ray photo above).

John Schrank, who claimed the assassination attempt was done per the instructions of the ghost of President William McKinley, was (unsurprisingly) declared insane. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions. He died of natural causes in 1943 at the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – John Flammang Schrank

Wikipedia – Theodore Roosevelt

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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: september 8, 1935

On the day in 1935, Senator Huey “The Kingfish” Long was shot in the Louisiana State Capitol.  He died two days later of complications from the wound.

Long was shot after a confrontation with Carl Weiss, a Baton Rouge doctor.  Weiss allegedly took exception to Long’s persecution of Weiss’s in-laws, who were Long opponents.  Weiss was shot multiple times by Long’s bodyguards and died at the scene.

The details of what actually happened aren’t clear, and several theories exist as to what went down.  The official story is that Weiss ambushed Long in the hallway of the Capitol and shot him.  But some people believe that Long was mistakenly shot by his bodyguards.  One theory has it that Weiss never even drew a gun, and that Long’s bodyguards overreacted, shooting Long and Weiss, then planting Weiss’s .32 automatic (which he usually kept in the glove compartment of his car) at the scene.

Thanks to a lack of modern forensics and a slipshod investigation, we’ll probably never know what really happened that night.

Further reading:

HueyLong.comAssassination

Wikipedia – Huey Long

this day in crime history: september 6, 1901

On this date in 1901, US President William McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. President McKinley died eight days later from his wounds. Czolgosz was subdued at the scene by the crowd and taken into custody. He was tried in NY State court and convicted of murder. He was executed in the electric chair at Auburn Prison on October 29, 1901.

This video is of a reenactment of the execution of Leon Czolgosz. The original film was shot by Thomas Edison in 1901.

Further reading:

University at Buffalo: The Legal Aftermath of the Assassination of William McKinley

Biography: Leon Frank Czolgosz

Wikipedia: Leon Czolgosz

this day in crime history: september 5, 1975

President Ford being rushed from the scene of an assassination attempt.
President Ford being rushed from the scene of an assassination attempt.

On this date in 1975, Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was arrested after pointing a gun at President Gerald Ford in a park in Sacramento, CA. The gun, a .45 automatic, was found to have four rounds in the magazine and none in the firing chamber. Fromme later claimed she had intentionally removed the round from the firing chamber, and that she had gone to the park to alert Ford about the plight of California redwood trees.

Fromme was charged and convicted for the attempted assassination of the president. At the sentencing hearing she threw an apple at the prosecutor, striking him in the face. She was sentenced to life in prison. (Apparently the apple-a-day thing doesn’t work on lawyers.)

Lynette Fromme was granted parole in July of 2008, but was not released until August 2009 as she had to serve extra time for a brief 1987 prison escape. Upon release she moved to Marcy, NY.

Seventeen days after Fromme’s assassination attempt, Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco, CA.

Further reading:

About.com – Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme

Wikipedia – Lynette Fromme

Syracuse.com – Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme plans to live in Oneida County

this day in crime history: july 7, 1865

hanged

On this day in 1865, four people convicted of participating in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln were executed by hanging. The conspirators were Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt. Surratt was the first woman executed by the US federal government.

Further reading:

Famous American Trials – Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators

PBS – The Assassination of Abrahan Lincoln

Wikipedia – Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

this day in crime history: july 2, 1881

On this date in 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot in the back and arm at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station in Washington, D.C. The wounds were not immediately fatal, and the president lingered until September 19th when he died of complications from his injuries. He was the second US president to be assassinated. Had he been shot 20 years later, medical science probably would have been able to save President Garfield, a point not lost on assassin Charles Guiteau. “The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him,” Guiteau proclaimed at his trial. Be that as it may, Guiteau was convicted of murdering the president in January of 1882. He was executed on June 30, 1882.

Further reading:

The Assassination of James A. Garfield, By Robert Kingsbury

Wikipedia – Assassination of James A. Garfield

Last Words of Assassin Charles Guiteau

Nobody Move – This Day in Crime History: June 30, 1882