This is the last entry in our exploration into gang violence here in Dakota County, Minnesota. This is a personal favorite of mine.
It was a perfect opportunity, the FBI had found them, Public Enemy No. 1 and all of his infamous side kicks. There they crouched, together and not so discretely on the Minnesota/ Wisconsin border, parading around in their cabin with girls and booze, definitely not expecting the raid that was about to happen in moments.
Unfortunately, not even the element of surprise could help the FBI in this case, the raid failed, miserably. This wasn’t enough to stop the hunt, knowing that the criminals would likely take cover in the corrupt criminal-ridden St. Paul, the FBI set out to catch them on their way. At that time, Hastings still used their signature spiral bridge, built in the 1890s as a means of slowing traffic coming across the border into downtown Hastings, it has long since been demolished.
That April in 1934 two police officers sat perched on top of the local drug store just waiting for the perfect shot at Dillinger as he crossed the bridge. The mobsters and the police shot round after round back and forth, across the bridge. The Dillinger gang’s car began to sputter as it began to succumb to defeat, but they sped onto Highway 3 determined to avoid capture. That was the final running John Hamilton, one of Dillinger’s men ever did, a bullet through the rear windshield punctured his back, killing him. Dillinger escaped eventually exiting onto a dirt road and following it north of Cottage Grove.
*** Special thanks to my source Paul Maccabbee’s John Dillinger Slept Here pages 236-41. Great, great read, highly recommended. As well as http://www.johndillinger.com/ which is a great resource for the John Dillinger enthusiast.