Let’s hear it for the killer anecdote

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From The Times obituary for Walter Walsh:

Walter Walsh killed people for a living. He was exceptionally good at it. But unlike many in his line of work, he never shot anyone who didn’t need shooting. Both as an FBI agent in the 1930s and as a marine officer during the Second World War, he comported himself with unfailing courage, steely determination and, in spite of all, a modest, unassuming humanity.

On October 12, 1937, the Brady Gang, a murderous band of armed robbers led by the notorious Al Brady, were tracked down to Bangor, Maine, where they had negotiated the purchase of a quantity of automatic weapons. Unknown to the gang, the owner of the store had contacted the FBI, whose men were waiting.

Agents, led by Walsh, arrested James Dalhover, a three-time killer, the moment he entered the premises but a second man, Clarence Shafer, was close behind, gun in hand. He opened fire immediately. Walsh, standing just feet away on the inside of the glass door, took a bullet in his chest and another — a lucky shot — to his right-hand, rendering his Colt 45 useless. Without missing a beat, the FBI man returned fire with the .357 Magnum in his left hand, killing Shaffer instantly. Bleeding from his wounds, he then ran out into the street, where Brady was exchanging fire with other FBI agents, to deliver the coup de grâce.

Russell “Rusty” Gibson. Gibson was not a man to be crossed. Wearing a crudely-made bullet-proof vest and armed with a Browning automatic rifle, classified as a light machinegun, he was determined that he would not be taken alive. Walsh granted him his wish. When the two met in a narrow alleyway, they each opened fire. “He shot high,” Walsh recalled. “I didn’t.”

Walter Walsh, marksman, was born on May 4, 1907. He died on April 29, 2014, aged 106


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