On the 15th of February, 1928, about 11:30 a. m., two bandits broke into and robbed the State Bank of Pe Ell, Wash.
These men obtained about $3,000.00 in cash and would have made a very effectual robbery had they not been careless when escaping from the bank so that they cut a wire and sounded one of those insidious burglar alarms that so often turn out to be only a false alarm. But this time the burglar alarm meant something and citizens passing in the street and hearing it come from the bank, sensed some mischief and got word to officers in time to catch sight of the bandits.
There immediately followed a gun fight in the street between the bandits and the police officers, but the shooting proved ineffectual on both sides. After an exciting chase in which not only police officers, but many citizens of Pe Ell took part, the bandits managed to hop onto a passing wood truck and make their way out of town, still followed, however, by the strange and excited posse.
As they neared the edge of the city the bandits jumped from the truck and escaped into the woods. Fearless, the pursuers followed and engaged them, Indian-style, in battle. After about an hours' fighting and much dodging in and out behind trees, the pursuers managed to shoot both the bandits, killing one and wounding the other, and recovering the $3,000.00 intact.
The bandit killed was identified by his clothing as George Allen and the man wounded gave his name as Robert Stevens. Stevens was brought to the county jail at Chehalis, Wash., and Mike Greenleaf, a U. of A. S. graduate, was sent over to take the finger prints.
"Stevens refused to talk to me," said Greenleaf, "and refused to reveal any identity of himself or his dead partner. As I was taking his finger prints he was sullen and said it was my job to find out who he was and not his job to tell me. I also took finger prints of the dead man, Allen. We sent the finger prints of these two men all over the country and, of course, a copy to the War Department at Washington, D. C., and in due time we received a letter from the War Department, as follows:
'Dear Sir :
'The attached finger prints of Robert Stevens received with your letter of the 20th are identical with those of Keith B. Spurrier, who re-enlisted September 2, 1920, at Fort McDowell, Cal., and was dishonorably discharged February 1, 1924, at the U. S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kans., pursuant to a sentence of general court martial, having been convicted of disobedience of orders, and escaped from confinement while serving as Private, Company E, first Infantry. This soldier first enlisted June 17, 1917, and gave his address then as Woodward, Ia.
'This office is unable to identify the attached finger prints of George Allen, marked 'dead' with those of any enlisted man of the army.
'Yours very truly,' " etc.
Stevens was sentenced from 10 to 15 years at the Walla Walla state penitentiary.
1. "Prints Identify Bandits After Hot Fight", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 12, June 1928, page 10.