Bonnie and Clyde’s iconic death at the hand of law enforcement

On a crisp May morning, a little past 9 a.m., one of the most infamous crime duos that have ever existed was gunned down in a hail of bullets on a dusty Louisiana road. It was 1934, and Bonnie and Clyde had been terrorizing the American countryside, robbing banks and killing as they went, all while capturing the imagination of the American public

The death of Bonnie and Clyde held almost as much interest and infamy as their whirlwind crime-ridden romance. At one point, it must have seemed to the two of them that they would live forever, always on the run and two steps ahead of the law. But it wasn’t to be, and Bonnie and Clyde were forced to make their final stand.

What about the death of Bonnie and Clyde holds so much fascination? 

The Death of Bonnie and Clyde: A Historical Account

Bonnie Parker was just 19 years old, and already married when she met Clyde Barrow. The attraction, bordering on obsession, was immediate. Even when Barrow was sent to prison for robbery, Bonnie was there, helping him to escape. 

Barrow’s freedom didn’t last, but eventually, the man was paroled and he was free to begin a life of crime with sweet Bonnie Parker. The duo stole a car and after a brief stint in jail for Bonnie, they formed the Barrow Gang with a group of other like-minded criminals. 

The Barrow Gang included:

  • Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow- The couple that captivated the public, Bonnie and Clyde would go down as the most famous members of the Barrow Gang.
  • Blanche and Buck Barrow– Clyde’s brother and his wife Blanche briefly joined the gang, but even the short time was fatal for Buck, who was shot and eventually died due to his injuries after being captured by police. 
  • Raymond Hamilton- A high-profile bank robber.
  • W.D Jones- A teen who was a temporary member of the group.
  • Henry Methvin- Methvin was a gang member who joined up with the Barrow Gang towards the end, and was present at the fatal firefight. 
  • Ted Rogers- Another temporary member of the gang that left before the fatal shootout. 

With their group assembled, Bonnie and Clyde embarked on a crime spree that was spread across multiple states-Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, and Louisiana. 

This was not a couple forced into crime because of some extenuating circumstance. Bonnie and Clyde were career criminals and chose the life they did willingly. The Barrow Gang’s crime of choice was bank robbing, both for its ease for a gang as experienced as theirs and because of the high payout that they received with each successful robbery. 

As they made their way through the southwest in their ridiculously fast Ford V8, Bonnie and Clyde began to make a reputation for themselves as star-crossed lovers and modern-day Robin Hoods. The young, attractive couple was easy for people to romanticize, but these two weren’t just robbing banks and stealing money. They were killing people along the way. 

Bonnie and Clyde’s Murders

Stealing money from a bank can be considered somewhat of a victimless crime. But Bonnie, Clyde, and the rest of the Barrow Gang were ruthless, and they weren’t afraid to kill to get what they wanted. 

Throughout their string of robberies and run-ins with the law, Bonnie and Clyde are estimated to have killed 13 people. Their victims were a mix of law enforcement officers and civilians. It didn’t matter who a person was–if they were standing in the way of Bonnie and Clyde, chances were that they weren’t long for this world. 

Why Were Bonnie and Clyde Considered Heroes?

Despite the murders and the robberies, there was still a large swath of the population who viewed Bonnie and Clyde as heroes. So many in America had been hit incredibly hard by the Great Depression, so it was easy for them to empathize with robbers instead of the banks that had caused them so much grief. 

Bonnie and Clyde were also considered a handsome couple, and photos that they took together during the downtime between their crimes were given to the media. These playful pictures humanized the couple for a lot of people and made it easy to romanticize the idea of the young couple on the run from the law. 

The Shootout: Bonnie and Clyde’s Last Stand

On May 23rd, Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and his gang of officers were ready for a stakeout. They had discovered that the Barrow Gang would be visiting the family of another gang member, Henry Methvin.

With the location locked in for the first time, Hamer had his group set up an ambush on the side of the road in a gathering of bushes. Hamer had been one of the officers chasing the Barrow Gang across the country, so this ambush meant everything to the Ranger. 

Hours passed, and the road remained empty. Hamer’s gang was almost ready to leave when they heard the roar of Barrow’s V8. Earlier that morning, Henry Methvin’s father, Ivan Methvin, had been convinced to park his truck as a decoy in exchange for his son not receiving the death penalty. So, Barrow saw the truck, and just as planned, slowed down to possibly offer assistance. 

With Barrow’s car still moving, Hamer and his officers opened fire on the vehicle. Louisiana officer Prentiss Morel Oakley shot first, and in a stroke of luck, his first bullet struck Clyde Barrow in the head, killing him instantly. 

The officers heard Bonnie scream, but it didn’t matter. They unloaded around 130 rounds into the car, afraid that Bonnie and Clyde would be able to slip away if they didn’t go the extra mile to make sure they were killed. 

The vehicle itself bore the brunt of the shots, having 112 bullet holes in it once the ambush was all over. Around one-fourth of the bullets hit Bonnie and Clyde, killing them many times over. One bullet might have done the job, but over 100 definitely did. 

Word quickly got out that Bonnie and Clyde had been killed, and before the coroner could arrive to retrieve the bodies, civilians showed up and began taking things from the scene as souvenirs. One woman was said to have cut hair from Bonnie, while a man was seen trying to saw off Clyde’s trigger finger. After a run that had captured the attention of the nation, the end of Bonnie and Clyde was not only swift but humiliating.

Where is Bonnie and Clyde’s Death Car?

Of all the things to come out of the death of Bonnie and Clyde, nothing is as infamous as their death car. Officer Henderson Jordan, one of Hamer’s group, had tried to keep the car, but it didn’t pan out. Since the car was stolen, the original owner had a claim to it, and took her car back at the first opportunity.

From there, the car became a traveling attraction, with a price of one dollar being charged to sit inside of it. By 1988, it had found a permanent home at Primm Valley Resort and Casino in Primm, Nevada. 


“Police kill famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde”

“Bonnie and Clyde”

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