Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1934

Gangster “Baby Face” Nelson kills FBI agent during raid

George “Baby Face” Nelson kills Special Agent W. Carter Baum during an FBI raid in northern Wisconsin. Nelson was holed up with notorious bank robber John Dillinger’s gang at the Little Bohemia resort but didn’t follow the planned escape route. As he was stealing a car to escape, he blasted several agents with two handguns. The famed gangster was born Lester Gillis but wanted to be known as Big George Nelson. Unfortunately for him, his youthful looks caused everyone to call him “Baby Face,” although one had to be careful about using the nickname within earshot of the gangster. After a typical teenage criminal career, Nelson joined Al Capone’s gang in 1929, where he was known for his particularly brutal strong-arm tactics. In fact, his unpredictable violence got so out of hand that it eventually led to his expulsion from the gang.

In the early 1930s, Nelson joined up with bootleggers in California. However, after Prohibition ended, Nelson returned to the Midwest to try his hand at bank robberies. Nelson hit a series of banks in 1933 and 1934 and was upset when John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd were given credit for his crimes. Despite this, Nelson teamed up with Dillinger inApril 1934: The pair hit two banks in South Dakota and Iowa. Reportedly, Dillinger was a bit perplexed by Nelson’s outbursts during the robberies. After shooting bank employees at both of the banks, Nelson had to be persuaded not to kill them. Not long after the raid on April 23, Dillinger was killed by agents in Chicago, making Nelson the country’s newest Public Enemy Number One.

On November 27, Nelson was spotted driving in rural Illinois. After a chase involving two FBI agents, Sam Cowley and Herman Hollis, an epic gun battle ensued. Witnesses say that Nelson tired of exchanging shots from behind his cover and decided to attack the agents on the offensive. Although Cowley and Hollis fired many rounds into Nelson, he kept coming at them with a machine gun. Nelson killed both agents and hobbled away to a getaway car, but he did not survive the bold move. The next day, his body, riddled with bullets, was found in a ditch.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Germans introduce poison gas

On April 22, 1915, German forces shock Allied soldiers along the western front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions at Ypres, Belgium. This was the first major gas attack by the Germans, and it devastated the Allied line. Toxic ...read more

Rolls-Royce co-founder dies

Frederick Henry Royce, who with Charles Stewart Rolls founded the luxury British automaker Rolls-Royce, dies on this day in 1933 at the age of 70 in England. Royce was born on March 27, 1863, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. He grew up in a family of modest means and ...read more

The first Earth Day

Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational ...read more

Hitler admits defeat

On this day in 1945, Adolf Hitler, learning from one of his generals that no German defense was offered to the Russian assault at Eberswalde, admits to all in his underground bunker that the war is lost and that suicide is his only recourse. Almost as confirmation of Hitler’s ...read more

The Oklahoma land rush begins

At precisely high noon, thousands of would-be settlers make a mad dash into the newly opened Oklahoma Territory to claim cheap land. The nearly two million acres of land opened up to white settlement was located in Indian Territory, a large area that once encompassed much of ...read more

Seduction is made illegal in Ohio

Ohio passes a statute that makes seduction unlawful. Covering all men over the age of 18 who worked as teachers or instructors of women, this law even prohibited men from having consensual sex with women (of any age) whom they were instructing. The penalty for disobeying this law ...read more

Union raid cuts Mississippi telegraph wires

Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s Union troops bring destruction to Central Mississippi as part of a two-week raid along the entire length of the state. This action was a diversion in General Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last remaining Confederate ...read more

Second Battle of Ypres begins

On this day in 1915, German forces shock Allied soldiers along the Western Front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions at Ypres in Belgium. Toxic smoke had been used occasionally in warfare since ancient times, and in 1912, the ...read more