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FBI’S Longest Shoot-Out Was With 62 Year Old Mama

July 21, 2018 Weird & Wacky No Comments Email Email

THERE’S a quaint old two-storey weatherboarder in Marion County in USA’s Florida that’s stood largely empty since it was built back in 1930, but when it opens as a museum early next year its sure to draw visitors in their hundreds of thousands, all of them curious about one of the most infamous crime families in American history.

Because the mother and 31 year old youngest son of that family rented the house and died there in a blazing shoot-out with fifteen FBI agents in January of 1935, a gun-battle that’s still recognised today as the longest shoot-out in FBI history. In total more than 1,500 rifle, machine gun and pistol shots were exchanged over four hours, until silence fell and mother and son were found dead amid their arsenal of weapons in an upstairs bedroom bolt-hole.

That gun-toting mother was Arizona “Arrie” Clark, better known publicly as Ma Barker, and her son was the murderer, kidnapper and bank robber, Fred Barker. Ma’s other three sons and another crim they’d ganged-up with, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis were also living at the house, but luckily for them had gone off elsewhere earlier that morning.

And today many students of crime are saying that Ma was not really the criminal she’s long been painted to be, and that FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover had portrayed her as Public Enemy No 1 with “the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade,” as a cover for his agents having shot dead the 62 year old woman in that one-sided 15-to-2 person shoot-out.

Ma Barker’s House. (FBI Official Records Office)

Plus a major crim of the time noted in his autobiography that Ma Barker never took part in any crimes, but simply provided support to her sons as “she couldn’t plan breakfast, let alone a criminal enterprise.”

Now Ma Barker’s house has been acquired by Marion County that’s moved it to a new site on their Carney Island recreational area in Lake Weir. And it’s still furnished exactly as it was when Ma and her family lived there – photos taken by the FBI in 1935 after the shoot-out showing all the same furniture and fittings precisely as they are in the house today.

Ma Barker house room where Ma-and-son-Fred killed by FBI

As well, there are scores of roughly patched-over bullet holes in furnishings and walls, and an FBI bullet is still wedged in the back of one dining chair.

Marion County will open Ma Barker’s old home as a museum in early 2019. To follow its progression to opening, and to learn more about Marion County, check out http://www.marioncountyfl.org/

MA and Fred Barker’s arsenal was displayed on the front steps of their house by the FBI after their deaths in an upstairs bedroom. (FBI Archives)

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