[Masthead] T-storm in Vicinity Heavy Rain Fog/Mist ~ 59°F  
High: 67°F ~ Low: 49°F
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Bonnie and Clyde guns to be auctioned

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Jan. 21 gun auction in Kansas City will bring back memories of 1930s desperadoes Bonnie and Clyde and a Joplin police detective's death at their hands.

Historians say Det. Harry L. McGinnis, son of former Vernon County Sheriff William B. McGinnis, accompanied four other Joplin officers to what they thought was a bootleggers' hideout on April 13, 1933.

But it was the trigger-ready Barrow Gang that waited in the garage apartment there at 3339 Oakridge Dr. to shoot down McGinnis and Newton County Constable J.W. Harryman, escape and kill Town Marshal Henry Humphrey in Alma, Ark., two months later.

The Lairmore family of Springfield has decided to sell two of the firearms confiscated after the Joplin shootout -- an 1897 Winchester 12-gauge pump shotgun and a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, or "Tommy Gun," according to the Joplin Globe.

Mayo Auction Co. will sell them at 10 a.m., Jan. 21, at 8253 Wornall Road in Kansas City. A spokeswoman there said Friday that minimum bids will not be set and the auctioneer, Robert Mayo, has no specific expectation as to what the guns will bring. They had been in the Springfield Police Museum since 1973.

Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts told the Herald-Tribune Thursday that McGinnis' commemorative plaque at the JPD tells the circumstances of his death. "Officers today are frequently injured or killed at traffic stops or domestic disturbances because they truly don't know until they arrive what they'll be facing," Roberts said.

"But Det. McGinnis and the other officers didn't have the advantages we do now of mobile data terminals in our cars and radio updates from various areas of the country. If they had received an alert describing Bonnie and Clyde's car and what they were armed with, all that might have played into their decision on how to approach that house.

"They were investigating an entirely different crime and had no idea who was there. This was the instance that brought Bonnie and Clyde to national attention. The film that was found and developed at the Globe got the feds involved because Bonnie and Clyde (with cohorts W.D. Jones and Buck and Blance Barrow) crossed into Oklahoma and Texas."

Despite Hollywood movies glamorizing the couple as charming anti-heroes, Roberts said, "The reality is that they killed an awful lot of innocent people.

"There is nothing romantic about that in my mind and I doubt the family of Officer McGinnis would find anything romantic about them at all."

Filed with the Missouri State Board of Health, the 53-year-old McGinnis' death certificate said he died at 11 p.m., April 14, 1933, at St. John's Hospital in Joplin "from shock and hemorrhage as the result of a gunshot wound in his right arm above the elbow in the discharge of his duties as a police officer."

A widower whose late wife's name was Matilda, McGinnis was born Oct. 7, 1879, at Vernon County Jail to Sheriff McGinnis and the former Margaret Harmony, according to local historical documents that say his father was sheriff from 1876-1880.

McGinnis is buried alongside his wife, who had died in 1931, at Deepwood Cemetery at 700 S. Washington St.

Dallas, Texas, natives Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow died in a fusillade of some 130 shots from six officers near Arcadia, La., on May 23, 1934, having been tracked from state to state for three months by former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.

The mortician who embalmed them told reporters that their bodies, each hit by about two- dozen bullets, were so perforated that they would not hold fluid.

Texas police historians say Hamer was assigned to stop the outlaw couple's crime spree after the machine-gun murder of a horseback-riding Texas Department of Corrections major guarding inmates near a Huntsville, Texas, prison, including Barrow Gang members Raymond Hamilton, Joe Palmer and Henry Methvin.

The shotgun and Tommy Gun going on the auction block Jan. 21 are the latest in a series of authenticated Bonnie and Clyde guns to change hands over the decades. The caches were plentiful from Joplin, where the gang had to abandon everything, and run and from the stolen gray 1934 V-8 Ford Model 730 Sedan in which the diminutive couple died.

Known for using high-powered fully automatic rifles, sawed-off shotguns and heavy pistols, the 5-foot-7 Clyde and 4-10 Bonnie went down packing three .30/06-caliber military Browning Automatic Rifles with 100 loaded 20-round clips, a half-dozen Colt .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols and 10-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns, according to references.

Having fancied himself a budding jazz musician, Barrow's saxophone was in the trunk.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: