On April 13, 1933, five lawmen raided an apartment in Joplin, Mo. The small garage apartment at 3347½ Oak Ridge Drive was the hideout of the infamous “Barrow Gang,” and temporary home to Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. A furious shootout injured two members of the gang and killed two police officers, but the gang escaped, once again a step ahead of the law.
However, police were able to collect items left behind by the group a camera with undeveloped photos of the bank-robbing duo, and at least two guns. The pictures, which included Clyde posing with his guns, Bonnie posing with a cigar, and Bonnie “disarming” Clyde in a mock arrest, were the first to identify the couple, and were widely publicized upon discovery.
This month, guns believed to be those seized in the raid, a .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun and a 12-gauge Winchester model 1897 shotgun, are going up for auction in Kansas City, Mo.
Robert Mayo, of Mayo Auction & Realty, explained to ABC News the origin of the weapons, brought to him by Mark Lairmore.
“[Lairmore's] great-grandfather, who was in law enforcement at the time, was given the two guns by another peace officer who had seized the weapons” in the raid, Mayo said.
Lairmore inherited the guns from his great-grandfather, and says he has no doubt the guns were used by Bonnie and Clyde.
A few months before the Joplin raid, the pair kidnapped a young police officer who testified later that the duo “bragged to [him] about having stolen their Tommy gun in Ohio, and the serial number on [this] gun is the same as one that was once listed as stolen in Ohio,” Lairmore said.
Mayo says he can’t guess what the guns might go for, but notes the Thompson sub-machine gun is valuable regardless of the lore surrounding it.
“These guns are highly collectible and would draw attention in any sale by their own history and merit,” Mayo said. “The Winchester model 1897 is a coveted rifle.”
Still, he says this one is special. “This is the only time in my entire life I’ll have a chance to sell something like this – a Bonnie and Clyde machine gun.”
The guns have long been in the Springfield Police Museum, but the owners decided to put them up for auction when their father and grandfather passed away.
“I feel it’s time for someone with an appreciation of antique guns and the history behind these guns to own them and care for them,” Lairmore said.
Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous crime violent crime and robbery spree took them across the country, and ended with their deaths just over a year after the Joplin raid. The garage apartment where the fatal raid took place is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and the top floor room where Bonnie and Clyde slept is available for rent overnight.
The auction is set for Saturday, Jan. 21. Bidders can participate in person or live online at auctionbymayo.com. The auction winner will be required to fill out an application with the ATF in order to own the gun.