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FBI Milwaukee Commemorates 80th Anniversary of Shootout at Little Bohemia

FBI Milwaukee April 22, 2014
  • Public Affairs Specialist Leonard C. Peace (414) 489-3565

Robert J. Shields, Jr., Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI Milwaukee Division, commemorates today the 80th anniversary of the FBI’s attempt to arrest infamous gangster John Dillinger and members of his gang at the Little Bohemia Lodge in northern Wisconsin.

On the evening of April 22, 1934, acting on a tip that notorious mobster John Dillinger and his gang were hiding out at the Little Bohemia vacation lodge in Manitowish Waters, near Rhinelander, Wisconsin, FBI agents were dispatched from St. Paul and Chicago with local law enforcement to that location. As agents raided the lodge, a full gun battle with the Dillinger gang ensued.

During the incident, a civilian Conservation Corps worker was killed. FBI Special Agent W. Carter Baum was ambushed and killed by another well-known gangster of the era, Baby Face Nelson, who shot and wounded FBI Special Agent Herman E. Hollis and a local constable in the same exchange. The constable, Karl Christensen, survived several gunshot wounds.

Dillinger and his men escaped the Little Bohemia resort that evening. Eventually, Dillinger would encounter the FBI again on the night of July 22, 1934, when his crime spree came to an end after being shot and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

“The FBI learned a lot from its early years and during the tragic incident of Little Bohemia in northern Wisconsin,” said SAC Shields. “The lessons we learned back then would shape how the Bureau trained its agents, prepared tactically, and even how we developed important partnerships with local law enforcement in the many years that followed.”

Joseph A. Fath, the Sheriff of Vilas County stated, “The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office acknowledges the sacrifices made by Special Agent W. Carter Baum of the FBI and local law enforcement officers on April 22, 1934, at Little Bohemia. The professional relationship with Vilas County law enforcement and the FBI may have started in 1934 with the Dillinger shootout, but it has continued to grow since that tragic incident. Today, we rely on our local and state law enforcement agencies and partnerships with the FBI and other federal agencies to address the current problems facing our communities.”

The FBI and its law enforcement partners honor the memories of those who lost their lives or were injured in the line of duty serving justice during the fatal confrontation at Little Bohemia 80 years ago today.