AUBURN, Ind. (AP) — A Thompson submachine gun that John Dillinger’s gang stole from a northeastern Indiana police station more than 80 years ago has been returned, finally, and will go on display.
The FBI returned the gun during a ceremony Thursday at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Auburn, about 20 miles north of Fort Wayne. The gun was stolen on Oct. 14, 1933, along with bulletproof vests, ammunition, and several other firearms.
Police in Tucson, Ariz., recovered the .45-caliber submachine gun in January 1934 when firefighters retrieved luggage from a burning hotel where Dillinger’s gang was staying. Tucson police held the gun as evidence at its department headquarters until 1966, when it was transferred to the FBI’s custody.
The gun was featured in the “Gangster Tour Route Display” at the FBI’s Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., until 2002. The weapon was then placed in what the Auburn Police Department has been told is a private, VIP-type display featuring artifacts related to Dillinger and other gangsters.
Police Chief Martin D. McCoy said the department is making plans to preserve and display the historic gun “for all to enjoy when visiting Auburn and sharing in its diverse, small-town history.”
McCoy said retired Auburn Police Sgt. Edward McDonald deserves special recognition for his efforts to find the machine gun and secure its return.
“Unfortunately, Sgt. McDonald passed away last year before getting the opportunity to see the Thompson returned to the police department he served for so many years,” McCoy told The Star of Auburn.
Dillinger was born in Indianapolis and became famous as a Depression-era bank robber. Several banks and police arsenals in Indiana were among those Dillinger’s gang robbed. Dillinger was 31 when FBI agents fatally shot him in July 1934 outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater.