Contributed by Terri Taylor
Taken From the Chicago Daily Tribune, (Volume XCIV - No. 15) 01/17/1935)
Posses Seize Gunmen; One Kills Himself
Ottawa, Ill., Jan. 16 special
A bank president, a sheriff and a bandit were shot to death and a 15 year old boy, a bank director, a deputy sheriff and a bandit were wounded during gun fights this morning in 3 central Illinois counties. Three of a gang of 4 men whose attempt to rob the State bank of Leonore, Ill precipitated the gun fights, were captured as they sought refuge in a farm house.
Director Likely to Die.
Those who were wounded were:
The 2 bandits who surrendered were Thielans brother-in-law, Fred Verner, 29 and John H Hauff, exconvict and parole violator.
Posses numbering more than 50 armed men effected the final capture of the gang. Peace officers from LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties, with all available state highway policemen and city officers responded to the general alarm which was sent out about 9 am. Within an hour the final chapter of the ensuing gun battles had been written
Banker Becomes Suspicious:
Banker Bundy started walking toward his bank about 8:45 in the morning. His suspicions and those of several townsmen in the small village of 500 had been around the night before by the appearance of a strange car and 4 men. Bundy, before leaving home, had telephoned the Streator police, 10 miles to the southeast, asking them to check the license number of the car. There is no police force in Leonore. As he neared the bank he was joined by Leon Smith and James Adamson, bank guards, Seipp, who was across the street, warned Bundy to be careful.
Finds Robbers in Bank:
The banker inserted his key in the front door and as he did so jumped back, shouting; There are men inside. At that instant the door burst open and 3 men, 1 carrying a machine gun, darted out, swept Bundy and the others aside and ran around to the rear of the bank. There a 4th man had been waiting with their stolen car. It is believed that the gang entered the bank through a coal chute. Apparently the activities of the villagers had alarmed the gangster waiting in the auto because the 3 gunmen found he had driven away
Seize Auto at Garage:
It took them a few minutes to reach the garage of George Yusko. The gunmen ordered a salesman to swing 1 of the automobiles to the door. Then thrusting the salesman and young Naas into the car, the gun trio swept out the door and headed north. They apparently decided to try to find their other companion who had disappeared. For about 5 minutes later, the gunmens car ran back on the main street, headed south. Bundy and Seipp, meanwhile had run into the bank seizing rifles and shotguns. Several other townspeople also had armed themselves. An attempt to rob the bank had been made only a few weeks before. At that time the lone gunman was routed by Bundy who struck him with a fist.
Shoot to Rescue Pal
Before the bandit car had disappeared north, Bundy and Seipp learned that the other thug appeared to have stalled the car, 80 rods outside of town. They ran up to the car and the robber rushed into a car and the robber rushed into a corn field, not waiting to seizing his shotgun. In a few minutes they had captured him. They were heading him back to the road when the other bandits appeared. They had driven through town, 1 man standing on the running board shooting a machine gun to drive the vigilantes back into their houses and holding the boy on the other side of the car as a shield. A few feet from the Bundy party, the machine gunner opened fire, as the captured robber broke away. Bundy was killed. Seipp fell a few moments later, after he had fired a few shots. One of them is believed to have wounded the bandit Thielen. With the 4th man, the others and their prisoners continued south for about a mile, then swung west
Sheriffs, State Police Busy:
Meanwhile the general alarm was sounded. Sheriff Ralph H Desper of LaSalle County and his deputies started south and west. Sheriff Axline and his men began closing in from the southwest, as state highway policemen at LaSalle and neighboring communties began drawing the net tighter. A few miles this side of Magnolia, near the town of McNabb in Putnam County the bandits saw a pursuing automobile gaining on them. The robbers stopped and one of them got out, holding his hands high overhead. The other knocked the rear window out of their car and waited. The pursuing machine contained Sheriff Axline and Deputy Brown. The sheriff believing the gunmen were surrendering, stepped out of his machine
Sheriff Axline is Killed
At that instant the occupants of the other car, fired. He fell, mortally wounded. One of the slugs struck Brown in the right shoulder, disabling his gun arm and the bandits fled on. The salesman, who had been a prisoner, was pushed out of the car, as the gang headed north. The gangsters realized a large posse had cut off escape. The driver of the gunmens car swung it into the farmyard of Jake Ioger, a few miles from McNabb. Mrs. Ioger and her daughter, Florence had been notified a short time before of the bank shooting. When the car appeared, Miss Ioger thought the men were policemen and ran out to meet them
Fire into Farmhouse:
The leader, who was Verner, stepped out, seized one of her arms and said, We are going inside. Come on. Verner, the wounded Thielan and young Naas, whose head was bleeding from a scalp wound, walked inside as the telephone began to ring. White haired Mrs. Ioger started to answer, but was roughly pushed aside by Verner, who jammed a pistol against her. Hauff and Leist meanwhile had run into the fields, hiding in the tall cornstalks. 10 minutes later the posse swept into the farmyard. Verner asked the women where they could hide and Miss Ioger told them it was no use. The men, however, ran into a closet and closed the door. As one group of possemen converged on the field, another surrounded the farmhouse. The 1 near the farmhouse caught sight of Norbert holding his bleeding head and called on the robbers to surrender. Verner and Thielan tossed their guns on the floor and walked out with upraised hands. The other police and deputies had begun firing as they detected movement among the cornstalks. Hauff returned a few shots from his machine gun as he and Liest lay flat on the ground
Bandit Kills Himself:
With the posse drawing closer, Liest apparently realized tha the game was up. He placed his pistol against his head, fired 2 shots. Hauff drew a white handkerchief, waived it several times and then stood up. The capture was complete. The 3 robbers were taken to Ottawa. There Verner and Hauff were placed in the County jail. Thielen and the boy was taken to St. Marys hospital. Miss Ioger later told the deputies that Verner remarked as he saw Mrs. Ioger: You remind me of my mother, I wish we had never done this. I have a wife and children.
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