Vintage stories of robbers shot by armed citizens
Compiled by Robert A. Waters
Almost from the beginning of this country, armed citizens have successfully fought back when attacked. Until the advent of the Internet, these stories were just blurbs in some local newspaper, and therefore, unknown to the general public. Because of this, anti-gun politicians got away with disparaging those who claimed there were many cases of armed self-defense. Now it’s easy to locate numerous cases online. In today’s blog, I’ll publish a few of the older stories that never made national news—you’ll notice that many are just two- or three-sentence write-ups.
Eiland, N. C., November 13, 1930—(AP)—One robber was killed and another escaped after an unsuccessful attempt to rob the bank of Eiland here Saturday. The dead man was identified as Frank Carpenter, of Durham. He was shot down by F. Carl Forrest, a merchant, as he left the bank with several thousand dollars in his pocket. As Forrest's shot rang out, another bandit, who had been waiting in an automobile in front of the bank, sped away.
Westville, Oklahoma, Oct. 14, 1930—(UPI)—An attempted bank robbery was frustrated here today, a robber was killed, a bank president was wounded, but a posse failed to capture the second of the two holdup men. A man giving the name of Tom Haworth was killed when bank officials first grappled with the bandits and then obtained guns and fired at the fleeing robbers. Before he died he said his companion was named Elmer Jones. F. S. Howard, president of the bank, was wounded in the hand when he rushed outside the bank to continue firing at the robbers, who sped away in a motor car. Haworth, fatally wounded, left the car about a mile from Westville, and was captured.
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26, 1940—UP— Police announced today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had identified a gunman killed during a holdup Monday night as William Anderson, 23, of Albuquerque. The FBI said the victim's fingerprints tallied with those of Anderson, taken when he enlisted in the army at Ft Lewis, Wash., a year ago. He was the second robber killed in two months by Mike Bossio, liquor store owner.
TROY, New York, Oct. 7, 1913—Frank Stumpf, postmaster at Stillwater, Saratoga county, aroused at 3 o'clock this morning by the sound of an explosion in the post office about 100 feet east of his residence, took his rifle and fired at random through a window by the side of the safe, instantly killing an unidentified man who was attempting to rob the safe. One of the burglars stationed outside the post office was armed with a repeating rifle and fired three shots at Stumpf. Two men then ran from the building and made their escape. The third was found dead by the safe, the bullet having entered just behind the left ear.
The Ohio Democrat (Cincinnati)
WICHITA, Kan., April 11, 1894—The Daltons or other train robbers attempted Monday night to hold up the Rock Island train No. 1, four miles below Pond Creek, in the Oklahoma Territory. They met an unexpected resistance at the hands of Jake Harmon, the Wells-Fargo express messenger, who shot the first man who tried to break in the express car by the use of dynamite. The other men in the gang tried to escape, but the trainmen succeeded in wounding and capturing another of the men and two horses. The other bandits succeeded in getting away, but without any booty.
The train went through Pond Creek, which is a new town in the strip, about 11 o'clock. It was evidently at this point that two men mounted the front platform of the express car next to the locomotive. The train had gone about four miles from the town when one of the men with a revolver in each hand climbed on the tender and compelled the engineer to stop. No sooner had the train come to a standstill than three or four men suddenly appeared out of the darkness. The men on the locomotive kept the engineer and fireman from giving the alarm while the rest of the gang went back to the baggage and express car.
They tried to open the door, but the messenger had become alarmed and had the door securely fastened. The bandits then fired through the car and brought out a stick of dynamite with which they blew out the end of the car. They then tried to enter the car, but Messenger Harmon was ready for them. He shot and killed the first man to put his head in sight. This was more than the other members of the gang had expected and they attempted to beat a hasty retreat.
By this time other trainmen had come to Harmon's relief and another desperado was wounded. The other masked men ran to their horses which were waiting, hastily mounted and rode away in the darkness, leaving their wounded companion on the ground. He was picked up by the trainmen, put in one of the cars and his wounds cared for as well as could be under the circumstances.
Two horses which had been left for the victims were also captured. The train then backed up to Pond Creek, from which point the alarm was sent out and arrangements made for the pursuit of the bandits. Telegrams were sent to all the sheriffs in this part of the country and every effort will be made to bring the robbers to justice. The robbery was well planned.
The region is a wild one, in which the bandits, who are well acquainted with the lay of the land, would have a great advantage over any posse that would attempt to follow them. One of the masked men had his specific duty assigned him in true bandit style, and the horses were ready for the escape and for carrying off the booty. Had it not been for the unexpected bravery of Jack Harmon the hold-up would have been a success. The amount of money on the car is unknown, but it is supposed to be large.