Lawmen take the “shoot first and ask questions later” approach
On the morning of May 23, 1934, six Texas and Louisiana lawmen sat by the side of a dirt road in rural Louisiana. The had been there all night and most of the day before. They were tired and had been ready to give up hours ago, but they had an important assignment. They were waiting for a V8 Ford Sedan with two infamous occupants, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
The group was led by former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. Hamer had been tracking the movements of the two notorious robbers for several months. He believed that he had found a pattern to their travelling. Hamer surmised that they would be visiting the family of Henry Methvin, a member of their robbery crew.
The lawmen persuaded Henry Methvin’s father, Ivan, to park by the side of the road near his farm. They hoped that Bonnie and Clyde would see the car and slow down.
The tenuous plan worked perfectly. At about 9:15 am they heard the rumble of the powerful Ford travelling at a high rate of speed. The lawmen took cover in the woods and waited. Sure enough it was the murderous pair roaring down the road. They recognized Ivan Methvin and slowed down.
There was no car stop, or cries of “police don’t move”. The heavily armed posse opened fire after seeing the pair in the front seat as the car slowed. They were wanted for the murders of 9 law enforcement officers, and this group was taking no chances.
Bonnie and Clyde died in a hail of some 130 bullets. A remarkable arsenal was found in the Ford. They had stolen two BAR fully automatic machine guns from the Missouri National Guard. Parker was partial to a sawed off shotgun and several were in the vehicle. They had other rifles and numerous pistols. Several thousand rounds of ammunition ensured the two could fend off any assault.
Frank Hamer was relatively unapologetic about his ambush, stating, “I hate to bust the cap on a woman, especially when she was sitting down, however if it wouldn’t have been her, it would have been us.” He was probably right. The pair delighted in killing cops as evidenced by the nine line of duty deaths that had occurred at their hands in the past two years.
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