Remembering one of the bloodiest days in Bangor's history

The Brady Gang shootout

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Brady gang shootout is one of the most memorable pieces of Bangor's history; it is also one of the bloodiest.

They were some of the most dangerous men in the nation -- led by public enemy number one: Al Brady, James Dollover and Clarence Shaffer. Otherwise known as the Brady Gang.

“It was their desire for guns and killing that really made them especially fearsome to the FBI.” Bangor historian Richard Shaw said.

The three men were wanted for murder in Indiana and a string of robberies. The trio fell off the grid, eventually emerging again in October of 1937; this time in the Queen city. It was on Central street in downtown Bangor that their run from the police came to an end. One of the men had asked to buy a machine guy at Dakin’s Sporting Goods store, what is now Briar Patch bookstore.

He said the gun was for deer hunting. This struck the store owner as odd and he reported it to police. Police contacted the F.B.I. to let them know they thought a gang was in town. On October 12, 1937 the F.B.I. staked out the store, shortly after they were in the middle of a shootout.

“I think they must have truly been shocked because this was their third visit here,” Shaw said. “Two of the gangsters, Al Brady and Clarence Shaffer JR were dead in the street by 8:30.”

Those that witnessed it say bullets were flying everywhere, blood was all over the street and the bodies of Al Brady and Clarence Shaffer landing right in the middle of the chaos. Shaw’s mother was actually in the crowd when the shootout took place.

“Not quite how she thought her day was going to unfold that morning at 8:30.” Shaw said

It was her connection to the historic moment that led to Shaw's obsession with it. He began researching, making phone calls, even traveling to Indiana to talk to the gang's family members.

“About 40 years ago I said what if I got up tomorrow morning and I set out to find out what really happened that day.” Shaw said.

He has been collecting items from the scene along the way. One piece being a store sign from the scene with a bullet hole in the lower right corner. “You can still feel the karma,” Shaw said. “Knowing what was going on, on either side of that door as the agent fired a machine gun bullet through that hole.”

Even 80 years later the Brady gang shootout still holds a very special place in Shaw's heart. The good guys got the bad guys and it all happened right here, in the Queen City. Shaw is not the only one who is still fascinated by that historic morning, and those who are do something every decade on it’s anniversary.

This year there is a lecture Wednesday night about the shootout being held by Gerry Palmer at the Bangor Public Library. On Thursday morning there will be a last breakfast of the Brady Gang at Bagel Central.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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