Friday, August 23, 2013

On this Date in Minnesota History: August 23

August 23, 1934 - At the corner of Marion Street and University Avenue in St. Paul, [Dillinger pal Homer] Van Meter was confronted by four police officers, including Chief of Police Frank Cullen, former chief Thomas Brown and two detectives, all heavily armed. The officers later claimed Van Meter ignored their command to stop and fled into a nearby alley, where he opened fire on the officers, at which time the officers returned fire, killing Van Meter. He was 27 years old.

The number and severity of Van Meter's wounds (50 bullets in all, and several of his fingers were shot off) would cause some to label the incident an ‘ambush’ or an example of ‘police execution.’ Van Meter's family would later say their kin had been used for ‘target practice.’

The four officers reported $1,323 found on Van Meter, although his friends and associates claimed he was carrying at least $10,000 on that day. In 1939, the FBI announced that it believed St. Paul gangster Harry Sawyer had set up Van Meter to get at his money, splitting the take with the four ranking officers who did the shooting.

Homer Van Meter is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.”

Homer Van Meter

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