Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - Running Gun Battle

On September 6, 1955, two bandits held up a liquor store and a bar at Baker, Nevada. Trooper Gordon Farnsworth was notified by the Millard County Sheriff’s Department that the suspect vehicle was last seen eastbound on Utah 21. Trooper Farnsworth proceeded west on Utah 21. Near Milford, Gordon spotted the suspect vehicle traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed. He pursed the wanted vehicle which accelerated to over 90 mph. Approximately six miles into the chase, the passenger pulled a .30-06 Springfield rifle from the back seat. Trooper Farnsworth responded by drawing his .357 magnum revolver and transferring it to his left hand. Immediately the gun battle was on. The first shot fired by the felon blew out the back window of the bandit’s vehicle. Holding his duty weapon out the left window, Trooper Farnsworth returned fire, striking the trunk of the suspect’s vehicle. The passenger fired a second shot which struck the front cross member of Trooper Farnsworth’s patrol car. Gordon closed the distance to approximately 100 feet and continued to fire at the fleeing felons. One of his rounds passed through the blown out back window and exited the front windshield. Another hit a suitcase placed in the back window by the passenger. The passenger continued to fire out the back window with his high powered rifle, but failed to hit the patrol car.

Trooper Farnsworth knew that this running gun battle was about to enter Minersville. He pulled to the right edge of the road in order to obtain a clear sight picture and fired a round which struck the right rear tire of the fleeing felon’s vehicle. The tire began to deflate at the same time the road made a sharp turn, a quarter mile west of Minersville. The bandit’s vehicle failed to negotiate the turn, ran off the road, and rolled two and one half times, coming to rest on its top. Trooper Farnsworth’s patrol car slid to a stop approximately 200 feet away and he exited his car carrying his department issued Winchester Model 97, 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buck.

Trooper Farnsworth ordered the duo to come out with their hands raised. The driver exited the rolled vehicle brandishing a rifle. As this felon swung the barrel towards Trooper Farnsworth, Gordon fired a round from his shotgun. The buckshot struck the side of the overturned vehicle and the driver quickly dove for cover. Trooper Farnsworth closed the distance and again ordered the two suspects to surrender. The driver again brandished the rifle and again Gordon fired into the side of the vehicle. The suspect then dropped the rifle and surrendered with his hands held high.

As Trooper Farnwsworth approached to within 50 feet, he saw the passenger digging around in the overturned vehicle. Gordon ordered the suspect to surrender; however, this felon failed to give up. Gordon fired a third round into the vehicle. The bandit exited with his hands raised.

Trooper Farnsworth then searched and handcuffed both felons. They had only sustained minor cuts and bruises. The overturned vehicle was later determined to be stolen. Found inside were three rifles, two pistols and a large quantity of whiskey. All the weapons were loaded.

The driver, John Stewart, 21, Canton, Ohio had been paroled from the Ohio State Reformatory on May 26th. His passenger, Fred Arnold Frederich, 20, Chicago, had been paroled from this same institution on July 14th. They both later pled guilty before Fifth District Court Judge Will L. Hoyt to assault with intent to commit murder and were sentenced to five years to life in the Utah State Prison.

[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:39 MST]