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John Dillinger was an infamous gangster and bank robber during the Great Depression, and was know as "Jackrabbit" and "Public Enemy No. 1."
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In this one, its members were not as carefully chosen as the previous gang, being composed of several misfits and a few psychopaths, including Lester Gillis, a.k.a. "Baby Face Nelson." Dillinger also teamed up with his friend from the Reformatory, Homer Van Meter. The new gang located to the St. Paul, Minnesota, area. During the month of March, the Dillinger Gang went on a crime spree in four states,
robbing a half dozen banks. Some of the robberies went off without a hitch, while others proved more problematic. Dillinger and another gang member were wounded during a bank robbery in Iowa and were forced to hole up in a Wisconsin hideout called Little Bohemia.
Soon after their arrival, the lodge owner, Emil Wanatka, recognized his new guest as the famous John Dillinger. He assured Wanatka there would be no trouble, but to be sure he monitored the lodge's owner and his family closely. The other gang members made Wanatka fear for the safety of his wife and family. He wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney, George Fisher, revealing the identity of his guests. His wife, Nan, convinced Dillinger to let her go to her nephew's birthday party. She was able to elude their guard, Baby Face Nelson, and mailed the letter. Soon after, the local FBI agent, Melvin Purvis, was contacted.
In the early morning of April 23, FBI agents drove to the Little Bohemia lodge by car. About two miles from the resort, they turned off the car lights and trekked on foot into the woods. The agents spotted three men walking out of the lodge and into a car in the parking lot. Thinking they were gang members trying to escape, the agents opened fire on the car. They ended up killing one and wounding the other two. The lodge exploded with gunfire as the real gang members were alerted to the intrusion. Following a carefully planned escape route, all gang members slipped out the back of the lodge and ran in different routes into the woods.
As summer approached in 1934, John Dillinger had dropped out of sight. Because of his notoriety, life was becoming increasingly difficult. The FBI labeled him "Public Enemy Number One," and placed a $10,000 reward on his head. To avoid detection, Dillinger underwent a crude form of plastic surgery in May at the home of Jimmy Probasco, a Chicago bar owner with connections to the mob. He spent the following month at Probasco's home healing, and going under the alias Jimmy Lawrence. In reality, Lawrence was a petty thief who at one time had dated Dillinger's former girlfriend Billie Frechette.
On June 30, 1934, John Dillinger robbed his last bank. He was accompanied by Van Meter, "Baby Face" Nelson, and one other unidentified individual. Shortly before noon, the gang arrived at the Merchant's National Bank in South Bend, Indiana. As they entered, Nelson fired his machine gun to get everyone's attention inside the bank, which in turn got everyone's attention outside the bank. The next few minutes unfolded like a scene from a Hollywood gangster movie.
Several people came running toward the bank, including police officer Howard Wagner.
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