Last week on The Phoenix Auto Glass Blog, we shared the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. As two of the most infamous criminals of The Great Depression, the couple led the infamous Barrow gang. The gang ravaged the Midwestern region of the United States, leaving behind a trail of robberies and murders. We shared the gory details of Bonnie and Clyde’s death, along with images of their bullet ridden vehicle. Over 130 rounds pelted the vehicle sides, windshield, windows and rear windshield.
However, there is another infamous criminal from that same time period, known as "Public Enemy Number One”. The infamous criminal we speak of was none other than John Dillinger. His exploits during the Great Depression made him a headline news celebrity and one of the most feared gangsters of the 20th century.
Public Enemy #1 - John Dillinger
Dillinger grew up in Indianapolis and as a young boy he committed petty thefts. At the age of 21, Dillinger robbed a grocery store and was caught and jailed. After he escaped, he headed to Chicago to put together one of the most organized and deadly bank robbing gangs in the country. Dillinger and his gang pulled off heists throughout the Midwest as the Great Depression raged. Their holdups and robberies were so daring that they captured the sensationalized appetites of a media starved society.
Media reports in his time were spiced with exaggerated accounts of Dillinger's bravado and daring and his colorful personality. The government demanded federal action, and director J. Edgar Hoover developed a more sophisticated Federal Bureau of Investigation as a weapon against organized crime and used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to launch the FBI.
Actor Johnny Depp portraying John Dillinger in the Film "Public Enemies"
Among Dillinger's more celebrated exploits was his pretending to be a sales representative for a company that sold bank alarm systems (and then "testing" the bank's security by carrying out an actual robbery). He reportedly entered a number of Indiana and Ohio banks and used this ruse to assess security systems and bank vaults of prospective targets. Another time, it was alleged, the men pretended to be part of a film company that was scouting locations for a "bank robbery" scene. Bystanders stood and smiled as a real robbery ensued and Dillinger's gang fled. This ruse became legend but has never actually been proven. Dillinger was believed to have been associated with gangs who robbed dozens of banks and accumulated a total of more than $300,000.
In December 1933, the gang took some time off and then decided to spend the holidays in Florida. Shortly before they left, one of the gang members fatally shot a police officer while picking up a car at a repair shop. The Chicago Police Department subsequently established an elite group of officers dubbed the "Dillinger Squad" to focus on capturing of the gang. On their return from Florida, Dillinger and gang member Red Hamilton decided to rob the First National Bank of Gary, Indiana, for some quick cash to fund a trip to Arizona. The robbery went poorly; Hamilton was wounded, and Dillinger killed police officer William Patrick O'Malley during their escape.
Once in Tucson, a series of gang mishaps resulted in their arrests, including Dillinger. While awaiting trial, John Dillinger was placed in Crown Point Prison. The facility was deemed inescapable. On March 3, 1934, Dillinger proved them wrong by slipping out of the prison on his own without a shot fired. Legend has it that Dillinger carved a wooden gun, blackened it with shoe polish and used it to escape.
Dillingers Wooden Gun
Dillinger returned to Illinois where the FBI continued its intense efforts to subdue him. The FBI labeled him "Public Enemy Number One," and placed a $10,000 reward on his head. To avoid detection, Dillinger underwent a crude form of plastic surgery in the spring of 1934. During this time, the gang continued to commit robberies with daring escapes and shootouts.
This is one of the actual Reward Posters Issued by the FBI
One such robbery was at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wis., on April 22, 1934. Dillinger, Homer Van Meter and John "Red" Hamilton, his two top lieutenants, escaped in a 1930 Ford Model A. The trio of crooks eluded law enforcement and drove to Hastings, Minn., over 200 miles away from the Lodge. There, they were once again identified and fled in a high-speed pursuit. Hamilton was fatally shot in the hail of gunfire. Dillinger, it is said, smashed the Ford's rear windshield with his Thompson and sprayed his pursuers with bullets as he escaped.
Heading for Chicago, they dumped the bullet-riddled Model A in favor of a stolen 1934 Ford V-8. Three months later, Dillinger was shot and killed by the FBI as he exited the Biograph Theater in Chicago. According to the investigators, Dillinger died without saying a word. There were also reports of people dipping their handkerchiefs and skirts into the blood pool that had formed as Dillinger lay in the alley in order to secure keepsakes of the entire affair. Dillinger's body was displayed to the public at the Cook County morgue after his death.
Actual News Photo of the Scene of Dillinger's Death
These are actual photos of Dillinger's body on display after his death
Paul Ryans, Operations Manager at SunTec Auto Glass adds, “John Dillinger is another example of a very violent and disturbed criminal. These kind of people often capture the attention of the media and the masses during times of great struggle. The purpose of these articles is not to celebrate the evil deeds these people committed; however, it is very interesting how the difference between hero and villain can be simply a matter of perspective. I am sure this subject will be revisited on our blog as we continue to find more stories of windshields that were broken by these infamous criminals”.
The Lodge Scene
This is a scene from the movie "Public Enemies". It depicts the gunfight just before Hamilton was killed and Dillinger supposedly broke out the rear windshield of the Ford V8 so he could fire his Thompson at the pursuing FBI Agents.
If you live in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area and require a windshield replacement or auto glass repair, contact SunTec Auto Glass today. Our windshield replacement and auto glass repair technicians are NGA (National Glass Association) certified and service all vehicle makes and models. We use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) auto glass and OEM parts, because you and your family's safety matters. We work with all auto insurance companies and we accept all forms of payment. We offer free mobile service to Maricopa and Pinal Counties for your convenience. To schedule your windshield replacement, auto glass repair, auto glass tinting or auto glass etching, please contact us at (602) 753-6050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.