The real Bonnie & Clyde: Texas officers trap and kill notorious duo in shootout (1934)

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Bonnie and Clyde with their car

Texas officers trap and kill Clyde Barrow & Bonnie Parker
Outlaw’s auto runs into ambush in Louisiana

Pair are riddled with bullets on highway near Black Lake before their machine runs into embankment

Former ranger directs pursuit and attack — fugitives, weapons in their hands, unable to fire a shot

Black Lake, Louisiana – Clyde Barrow, the Southwest’s No. 1 outlaw, and his gunwoman companion, Bonnie Parker, were trapped and shot dead by Texas and Louisiana officers near here today.

Disregarding a command to halt and unable to get their weapons into play, the desperado and his cigar-smoking companion crumpled up in the front seat of a speeding car. The car careened into an embankment and was wrecked.

In the wreckage, the officers who had set the trap found both bodies riddled with bullets. The woman was almost doubled over the machine gun she had held in her lap. Barrow’s body was twisted behind the steering wheel, a revolver gripped in one hand.

The real Bonnie & Clyde killed: Work of former Ranger

The trap was arranged by Frank Hamer, a former Texas Ranger; B. M. Gault, a highway patrolman, and Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn, Dallas County Sheriffs. Hamer was recently commissioned as a highway patrolman by the State of Louisiana for the special purpose of getting his man — and, in this case, his gunwoman.

Hamer had learned of the highways frequented by the pair, and with Gault. had been scouting the Black Lake hideout two months.

Bonnie and Clyde

Several weeks ago, they barely missed the pair at the rendezvous. After that, they adopted a policy of “sitting and waiting.”

The robbers’ trail was picked up this morning by Hamer and three Texas Ranger associates in Bossier Parish, where Barrow was reported to have relatives residing.

They followed the car to Bienville Parish, where the Rangers were joined by Sheriff Henderson Jordan and a staff of deputies.

With the posse hiding in brush along the paved highway. Barrow’s car broke over the horizon at a high speed.

Clyde Barrow fingerprints and criminal record from 1933

Story of killing the real Bonnie & Clyde

The officers were concealed in high grass over a distance of about half a block when they sighted Barrow’s car approaching the hill.

There were two trucks on the Castor-Gibsland road, going in opposite directions, according to a correspondent of the Shreveport Journal. These trucks served as an extra shield against discovery by Barrow and his companion, who were first fired upon by Deputy Sheriff Oakley.

He used a shotgun loaded with buckshot, and he fired quickly after ordering Barrow to stop, which warning Barrow ignored.

Barrow opened a door of the ear evidently to fire a sawed-off shotgun which he held in one hand, but Deputy Oakley and the five other officers who immediately joined in the shooting were too quick.

Barrow’s car. after moving about half a block from the point where Deputy Oakley opened fire went into the embankment, but was not seriously damaged except one wheel, which had been shot purposely, and the body of the car, which was peppered with missiles from the officers’ guns.

The real Bonnie and Clyde death

Ex-Ranger tells how he ran down Clyde Barrow

A Post-Dispatch reporter who talked with Frank Hamer, former Captain of the Texas Rangers, by long-distance telephone at Arcadia, La., this afternoon, was informed by Hamar that he had been searching for Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the outlaw’s gun-toting woman companion, for the last six months.

The readl Bonnie and Clyde

Hamer said he had been employed as a law officer to make the search but declined to say what agency employed him, “because there’s some other tough-shooting fellows I may be hired to go after.”

“Sure,” he said. “I can tell you what happened this morning. We just shot the devil out of them, that’s all. That’s all there was to it. We just laid a trap for them. A steel trap. You know, Bessemer steel, like gun barrels are made of.

“There were six of us, two deputy sheriffs from Dallas, a Texas State Highway patrolman, Sheriff Henderson Jordan of Arcadia and his deputy, Mr. Oakley, and myself.

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Bonnie and Clyde story - Clyde Barrow - FBI files

“We were hiding beside the road. All six of us on one side — we didn’t want any cross-fire — and when they came along, we hollered at them to stop. They both reached for their guns, but they were kind of slow. Seemed like they must have had cramps or something.

“They were too slow. They didn’t get to fire a shot. The car smashed into an embankment after we fired. Clyde was driving when we tried to stop them. Bonnie was sitting beside him.

ALSO SEE: Notorious gangster John Dillinger killed in Chicago (1934)

Bonnie and Clyde story - Bonnie Parker - FBI files

“Now don’t, please, put it in your paper that I’m with the Rangers. I’m not. I was for 27 years, but when they elected a woman Governor, I quit. That was on Nov. 1, 1932, just before she took office.”

A few years ago Hamer was stationed at one end of a bridge over a river that separates Texas and Oklahoma when the Governors of those states were in a dispute as to whether the bridge should be opened or closed.

Oklahoma National Guardsmen were impressed when the Ranger captain, who has survived many pistol encounters, organized a pistol shoot and entertained the guardsmen by splitting matches with revolver bullets.

The real Bonnie & Clyde: Outlaw, supposed woman aid, and Ranger who trapped them

Texas officers trap and kill Bonnie and Clyde

Upper right, rogue’s gallery [mugshot] photograph of Clyde Barrow. The picture of the woman, identified by police as a likeness of Bonnie Parker, was found with others in a house the outlaw had occupied near Joplin, Mo. Lower right, Frank Hamar, former Texas Ranger, who recently was commissioned as a highway patrolman to run down the fugitive pair.

The real story of Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

By Ruth Reynolds — Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) October 8th, 1967

The movie paints them as robin hoods, but they were a ruthless, kill-crazy pair

“Bonnie and Clyde,” the filmed version of the crime career of a couple of victous desperadoes of the 1930’s, has stirred some controversy, mainly over the issue of violence. Some critics say it’s too full of it; others say it’s an artistic recreation of a certain era in American history. For a realistic look at that era, and at Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, here is their story as pieced together by Ruth Reynolds, the noted crime chronicler of the New York Daily News.

“Bonnie and Clyde” is the tale of a bold and wacky pair of Southwest desperados of depression years now being seen across the country in a slam-bang and controversial movie.

The real Bonnie and Clyde were as mean and ruthless a pair of kill-crazy varmints as ever saw the light of day in Dallas, Tex., where each was born.

She was Bonnie Parker, 23 when she died under gunfire.

He was Clyde Barrow, five years Bonnie’s senior when he died in the same torrent of bullets.

Newspapers of the day called him the “Texas rattlesnake.’’ She was described as his ‘‘cigar-smoking, machine-gun-carrying mistress’’ during 11 months of 1933-34, the last year of their lives.

Neither police records nor newspaper accounts give any reason for the bloodthirst of Bonnie and Clyde except that they enjoyed the life they led — careening in stolen cars through bullets and bloodshed out of one holdup into another and the killing of at least 12 persons.

The film tries to pretty them up by showing that each was a Robin Hood at heart, robbing banks because banks ‘‘robbed’’ depression-ridden farmers of their land. The film does not show that they also stuck up many a poker and crap game for only one reason—money for their personal pleasure.

By the time he was 15, Clyde Barrow had stolen a car and was in trouble with the law.

By the time Bonnie Parker was that age she was married to a no-good who bowed out of her real life almost immediately under a 99-year sentence to the state penitentiary for murder.

But Bonnie’s mother, Mrs. Emma Parker, thought she was a good girl. And Clyde’s mother, Mrs. Cumie Barrow, labeled all her children ‘‘good,’’ no matter what they did. Clyde’s father, Henry, a respectable filling-station operator, was never asked his opinion.

Anyway, as a teen-ager Clyde teamed up with Ray Hamilton, another West Dallas delinquent. Neither went to school, nor did Bonnie.

By October, 1929, Hamilton and Barrow were being hunted as the perpetrators of two safe robberies in Dallas. That was about the time they met Bonnie Parker, a waitress in a Dallas cafe.

In March, 1930, a judge in Waco, Tex., sentenced Clyde to two years in prison on each of seven counts of burglary. Taking Clyde’s youth and the tears of his mother, Cumie, into consideration, the judge decreed that the seven sentences would run concurrently.

Clyde wasn’t bright enough to understand the meaning of ‘‘concurrently.’’ He thought he was in the pokey for the next 14 years.

So Clyde escaped from Waco before he could be taken to prison. Handy with a gun, he tried to shoot it out two weeks later with his captors in Middletown, OH.

Returned to Waco, Clyde not only learned what the judge originally intended, but he also found out that the judge had changed his mind. The sentences were now to run consecutively — and Clyde went to prison under a 14-year-sentence.

Bonnie now teamed up with Hamilton. Together, they joined Clyde’s older brother, Marvin Ivy (Buck) Barrow, then a prison fugitive, and Buck’s wife, Blanche, 22.

The movie version of Bonnie and Clyde ignores Ray Hamilton. In his place, there is a fictional character, ‘‘C.W. Moss,” a composite of several persons.

Buck Barrow finally got caught. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped. And his mother cried and cried some more. That left the gang of three — Hamilton, Bonnie and Blanche.

Cumie Barrow’s tears finally set awash the sympathy of Gov. Ross Sterling. He paroled Clyde Barrow in February, 1932, amid the protests of sheriffs who wanted to question Clyde about robberies and thefts all over the Southwest.

Clyde went straight to Bonnie and Hamilton and Blanche, and that was really the beginning of this Bonnie and Clyde business.

Maybe it was then Bonnie began writing (for she really did write it) the painfully self-expressed verses of the ballad. “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.” It opens:

You have read the story of Jesse James

Of how he lived and died

If you still are in need of something to read

Here is the story of Bonnie and Clyde

It was to be a bloody year.

The records say that Clyde and Hamilton did the robbing and the shooting and that a reddish-blond woman drove the get-away car and maybe that’s the way it was. In all her brief life, Bonnie was never tried for anything, or charged with anything either.

What did Bonnie think of these murders and bloodshed and kidnappings?  Well, she wrote:

There are lots of untruth to their write- ups,

They are not so merciless as that

They hate all the laws

The stool pigeons, spotters and rats.

They class them as cold-blooded killers,

They say they are heartless and mean,

But I say this with pride

That I once knew Clyde

When he was honest and upright and clean.

The movie version of Bonnie and Clyde shows Clyde in all his manliness behind a gun and more than hints that his psychological motive for this show of masculinity sprang from his sexual impotence with Bonnie. Well, she never said so, either in her little chats with kidnap victims or with her ever-busy pen.

In October, 1932, a clerk was killed during a grocery store robbery in Sherman, Tex. Clyde and Ray were identified as the holdup killers.

Newspaper clippings indicate that about this time, Clyde and Ray had a falling out over Bonnie’s affections. Obviously, she elected to stay with Clyde. For she was not about when Hamilton was picked up in December, 1932, and trundled off to the state penitentiary at Huntsville, Tex., under total sentences of 263 years.

In attempting to steal a car in Temple, Tex., Clyde killed the owner. He drove the car straight home to his mama in Dallas, ran into a police trap and, in shooting his way out, left a deputy sheriff dead.

Gov. Sterling was really a gentle heart. In 1933, he paroled Buck Barrow.

And do you know what Buck did? He high-tailed it to Joplin, Mo., where his wife, Blanche, and his brother and almost-sister-in-law, Clyde and Bonnie, were holed up in an inconspicuous house waiting for him.

The police around Joplin were little concerned with the Barrow gang; only with bootleggers. With no suspicion of the true identity of the merry occupants of the Joplin house, they surrounded it, intending to search for liquor. The result: one constable and one detective dead. The occupants shot their way free.

For weeks thereafter, Buck and Blanche and Bonnie and Clyde swept through state after state, always plentifully equipped with guns, stolen cars and money.

In April, 1933, they kidnaped a businessman in Ruston, La., and started off with him in his car. A home demonstration agent, Sophie Stone, gave chase. They stopped and kidnaped her, too.

They released this unrelated pair about 125 miles from Ruston and gave them $5 to get back to where they’d started from.

(This is the real-life fact behind the movie version of the hilarious kidnaping of a pair of sweethearts.)

By July, 1933, the Barrow gang was enjoying itself in a tourist cabin near Platte City, Mo. Police surrounded the cabin, and called to them to come out. A woman said they would be out as soon as they got dressed.

They came out shooting. Three policemen were wounded. So was Buck Barrow. So was Blanche Barrow, her face badly torn by flying glass.

The Barrow outlaws got away to the north, at least as far as a woods across the border of Iowa.

A highway restaurant proprietor there grew curious because for several nights one man ordered four dinners to take out and then took the dinners into the woods. A Dexter, Iowa, farmer was curious, too, because he found bloodstained bandages in one of his fields.

The law moved into the woods — and the gang waited behind trees.

At the end of the battle, Buck Barrow, wounded, was captured, with Blanche fighting like a tigress at his side.

Clyde and Bonnie waded a creek, crept through a cornfield, stole a farmer’s car and escaped. Men in airplanes, armored cars, plain jalopies, and on motorcycles took up the search for them.

Before he died, Buck confessed he shot the marshal near Van Buren, Ark., there- by trying to exonerate Clyde from at least one murder. Blanche was sentenced to 10 years for her part in various escapades. Cumie Barrow took Buck’s body back to Texas.

In November, 1933, word got about that Clyde had gone home to comfort his mother, sorrowing over Buck.

A trap was laid in a ditch on a new highway at Grand Prairie, Tex., which is about half way between Dallas and Fort Worth. The law saw the Barrow car coming. Bonnie and Clyde saw the law. They shot their way through to freedom.

The next Bonnie-and-Clyde job was the most daring and most dangerous. (It is not included in their screened biographies, probably because the film would have been over-long).

The truth was. with Buck dead, Clyde needed Hamilton.

At 7 o’clock on a foggy morning in January, 1934, two guards led a detail of 17 men across the land surrounding East- ham Prison Farm (which is part of the state penitentiary system) to a woodcutting job. The detail included long-term convicts Joe Palmer, Henry Methvin and Ray Hamilton.

Suddenly, Palmer headed for a thicket which hid a drainage ditch and Clyde Barrow and a number of guns. Four prisoners followed Palmer. They grabbed the guns. The shooting started.

One prison guard was killed, the other wounded. The five prisoners got away from the farm in two cars driven by Clyde and Bonnie. Two prisoners’ surrendered the next day but three — Palmer, Methvin and Hamilton — remained with Bonnie and Clyde to become part of the Barrow gang.

Now the Texas legislature had voted $10.000 reward for the apprehension of Barrow, called ‘‘the most dangerous desperado in the Southwest.”’

Also the Legislature authorized the state patrol to employ Frank Hamer as a special investigator with one mission — to get Clyde Barrow.

Hamer learned that Henry Methvin’s father was willing to cooperate with the law in exchange for a little clemency for his wayward son. (In the movie, the character C.W. Moss is. apparently partially a fictionalized version of young Methvin.)

The elder Methvin told Hamer where and when Bonnie and Clyde were expected to be in Boissier Parish, Louisiana.

Hamer set his trap in the proper place on the lovely spring morning of May 23, 1934, a trap reminiscent of the one Bonnie and Clyde had whizzed through between Dallas and Fort Worth. This time, the law- men saw Clyde and Bonnie first as their little gray car zipped along at 85 m.p.h. near Arcadia, La. This time the lawmen fired first.

The gray car lunged into an embankment with a dead Clyde Barrow at the wheel. The lawmen kept on shooting, dealing out the same kind of mercy Bonnie and Clyde had given their victims. There were 450 bullets in their bodies, 167 in their car.

On her lap, Bonnie held a machinegun and a blood-soaked package of cigarettes (not cigars). On the floor lay a half-eaten sandwich.

The last verse Bonnie ever wrote for her ballad reads:

Some day they will go down together

And they will bury them side by side

To a few it means grief; to the law, it’s relief

But it is death to Bonnie and Clyde.

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I have misgivings that a “small gray car” even if it was a V8, was even capable of 85MPH in the early 1930’s, and on an unsealed road. Was this an exaggerated estimate? Was it ascertained possibly from the speedo needle getting stuck on that reading after coming to rest and taken for gospel? And an amazing 450 bullets in the two bodies, but only 167 in the car body? Hmmm…..

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