Maine: An Encyclopedia

Crimes, Notorious

Maine has had its share of notorious crimes, such as the 2003 mass poisoning in New Sweden.

The Brady Gang was responsible for another. Its career ended in Bangor on October 12, 1937. Here is an excerpt from the Federal Bureau of Investigations account of their crime spree:

During the latter part of the year 1935, three human vultures by name Alfred Brady, James Dalhover, and Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., formed a coalition for the purpose of engaging in criminal activities which later were to make them the objects of one of the greatest manhunts in the history of American crime. The depredations of this gang of desperadoes rival those of the characters of the most bloodthirsty novels of our time and were brought to an end by the death of Brady and Shaffer while resisting arrest by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agents, and the capture of Dalhover in the New England City of Bangor, Maine, in October, 1937. To this gang has been attributed the statement that they “would make Dillinger look like a piker.” Whether or not they accomplished their avowed purpose is a moot question, but the fact that they met the same fate as the members of the Dillinger gang cannot be disputed.

[T]he members of this infamous gang committed in the neighborhood of 150 holdups and robberies and at least one and possibly two murders in the comparatively short period of time between the latter part of the year 1935 and April, 1936 . . . .

On September 21, [1937] they journeyed to Bangor, Maine, for the purpose of purchasing additional firearms, having heard that they could buy them there without any questions being asked. On this occasion, they purchased two .45 caliber automatic pistols and some ammunition at one sporting goods store and three .32 caliber Colt automatics at another, returning then to Bridgeport, Connecticut. At the sporting goods store where they had purchased the .45 caliber automatics, they had requested that some clips be obtained for them and also inquired if various firearms and special extra clips could be obtained. This aroused the suspicion of the employees of the store, and the manager reported the incident to the police.

On October 5, 1937, the gang returned to Bangor and purchased a third .45 caliber colt automatic again requesting that various clips be obtained for them and asking about a machine gun. After the gang had left, the manager of the store again communicated with the police and advised them that the gang had returned. He also communicated the information to Sergeant F. R. Hall of the Bangor substation of the Maine State Police, informing him that three tough-looking men had called at the store on September 21 at which time they had purchased two Colt automatic pistols and that they had returned on October 5, 1937, and purchased a third weapon of a similar type. He also advised Sergeant Hall that the men had stated they wanted to purchase a Thompson submachine gun and clips for other gun and had requested that these articles be obtained for them, indicating that they would return on October 11 or 12. Sergeant Hall communicated this information to the Chief of the Maine State Police, Wilbur H. Twole, at Augusta, Maine, who immediately transmitted the information to the Boston Field Division of the FBI, offering the full cooperation of his department.

An FBI Agent proceeded to Bangor with photographs of known criminal and fugitives sought by the FBI and interviewed the store manager to whom the various photographs were exhibited. He immediately identified the photograph of James Dalhover as being that of one of the men who had visited his store on September 21, 1937, and on October 5, 1937. . . . This information was immediately communicated to FBI Headquarters at Washington, and the special squad who had been constantly working on this case proceeded to Boston and quietly drifted into Bangor until the whole squad was assembled. The matter was discussed with Chief Thomas I. Crowley, of the Bangor Police Department, and with his cooperation, a surveillance of the hardware store was arranged and appropriate arrangements made whereby the members of the Brady gang would be apprehended at the time of their return to Bangor. One Special Agent was placed in the sporting goods store where, to all intents and purposes, he was working as a clerk; another was placed back of a partition in the rear of the store with an inspector of the Bangor Police Department, and others were placed in a building across the street from the sporting goods store. The scene was set for the appearance of the members of the Brady gang.

On October 12, 1937, at approximately 8:30 a.m., a Buick automobile with Ohio license plates appeared in Bangor. After riding past the sporting goods store twice, the occupants, apparently satisfied that everything was quiet and that there was no danger, parked the car a few doors from the store. Leaving Brady in the back seat of the car, Shaffer and Dalhover proceeded to the store. Dalhover entered the store while Shaffer remained on guard in front. Dalhover was immediately taken into custody by the Special Agents stationed within the store who, upon searching him, found a .45 caliber Colt automatic and a .32 caliber Colt automatic both fully loaded with two extra loaded clips for each on his person. He was immediately handcuffed and removed to the Bangor Police Department by police. While the handcuffs were being placed on him, he was asked by a Special Agent where his “pals” were. The answer came immediately. Shaffer had drawn his gun and started firing through the front door of the store, one of the bullets wounding a Special Agent in the shoulder. The Agents from within the store returned the fire, and Shaffer ran out into the street where he fell and died a few minutes later with a .32 caliber automatic pistol in his hand from which all but one shell had been fired. In the meantime, immediately upon observing the parked car with Brady sitting in it, two Special Agents approached it with drawn guns, one from either side, informed Brady that they were Federal Officers, and ordered him to get out of the car with his hands up. Brady put his hands up and started to slide along the back seat crying, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, I’ll get out.” As he arrived at the door, however, he lunged out, drew a gun, and started firing at the Agents. Fire was immediately concentrated upon him, and he fell dead in the middle of the street. At the time of his death, Brady had in his hand a .38 caliber revolver from which four shots had just been fired. A .32 and a .45 caliber automatic were on his person. Ironically, the .38 revolver in Brady’s hand was the gun he had taken from the body of the murdered Indiana State Policeman, Paul Minneman.

Source: (accessed October 9, 2007; now defunct) and (accessed June 3, 2013)


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This entry was last modified: June 03, 2013 05:13 PM

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