Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Reader Photo of the Day: Kansas City Massacre

Union Station Railroad Depot at 30 West Pershing Road. Photo Submitted by Todd in Kansas City, Mo.

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Today’s reader photo comes to us from Todd in Kansas City.  On the morning of June 17, 1933, the Union Station Railroad Depot in Kansas City, Mo., was the scene of a shootout that took the lives of five men — four law enforcement officers and their prisoner, outlaw Frank Nash. Nash, a notorious bank robber, was being transported back to Leavenworth prison, from which he had escaped while serving a 25-year sentence.  Having learned when the train carrying Nash would be arriving at the station, several of his cohorts conspired to free him.  Among them were ”Doc” Louis Stacci, Vernon Miller, Richard Tallman Galatas, Herbert Farmer, and Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd.

After arriving at the station, Nash was escorted through the station to a parked law enforcement Chevrolet by FBI agents F. Joseph Lackey, R. J. Caffrey and Frank Smith, Special Agent in Charge Vetterli, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed and Kansas City police Officers W. J. Grooms and Frank Hermanson.  As they were placing Nash in the Chevrolet, three gunmen, at least one armed with a machine gun, opened fire.  Nash and Chief Reed were killed inside the vehicle; Grooms, Hermanson and Caffrey were still outside the car when they were gunned down.

The exact details of what became known as the Kansas City Massacre are the subject of some contention.  One theory, put forth by author Robert Unger in his book The Union Station Massacre: The Original Sin of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, is that Nash, Caffrey and Hermanson were killed by bullets from Agent Lackey’s shotgun, which he had borrowed from Chief Reed. Also disputed are the identities of the gunmen.  Though the FBI determined that Floyd, Richetti and Miller were the gunmen, Unger and Michael Wallis, author of Pretty Boy, a biography of Floyd, maintain that Floyd and Richetti were framed.

Following the Kansas City Massacre, FBI agents, who were previously not authorized to carry firearms or make arrests, received a supply of Thompson submachine guns and were granted the authority to make statutory arrests.

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Read More about Pretty Boy Floyd and the Kansas City Massacre.

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