Stanford Avenue and 33rd Street via Google maps’ street view.
Stanford Avenue and 33rd Street is one of those little pockets of old houses in Los Angeles that looks like it hasn’t changed much since 1934, when two men in their 20s calling themselves “the new Dillingers” killed LAPD Officer Russell A. Leidy in a shootout.
Harry Wilson and Paul McDonald began the evening of July 24, 1934, by holding up a cafe at 5800 S. Broadway. They got $5.
Their next job was a cafe at 3316 S. San Pedro St. They got some money from the cafe owner and backed out of the door, warning the owner and a restaurant patron not to start anything: “We’re the new Dillingers and we’re plenty tough.”
The restaurant customer, however, was Officer Merle Parmele, who was off-duty and in civilian clothes. Parmele raced after the men and fired several shots as they got in their coupe. LAPD Sgt. Edwards, who happened to be nearby, joined in the gunfight between Parmele and the robbers.
Wilson and McDonald wrecked their car at 33rd Street and stole the car of Johnny Myers (identified by The Times as a “Negro musician”), who was parking in an alley. Taking Myers with them, McDonald drove while Wilson got into the back seat.
Leidy and his partner, Officer Owen Tucker, got the radio call as they cruised the area and stopped the robbers at 33rd Street and Stanford Avenue.
The officers got out of the car, and Leidy asked Wilson: “What have you got in there?” Wilson fired several shots, killing Leidy as Tucker opened fire at the robbers.
Myers was wounded and fell out of the car, pleading with Tucker not to shoot him as McDonald and Wilson escaped. By this time, a large number of officers had responded and Wilson and McDonald were found hiding at 3722 1/2 S. Main St.
On Aug. 25, 1934, Wilson was convicted of killing Leidy and sentenced to life at San Quentin. McDonald was convicted of robbery but found not guilty in Leidy’s death.
In 1936, Wilson was caught trying to saw through the bars of his cell and “placed in the dungeon,” The Times said. In 1942, LAPD Capt. Jack Donahoe told The Times that Wilson had been secretly paroled. However, The Times reported in 1944 that Wilson had been denied parole. Wilson again sought parole in 1945, The Times said. After that, there is nothing further in the clips.
Interesting. My grandfather, who died in 1972, would have been one of his colleagues on the LAPD back then. I wonder if they knew each other. Sad story.
Larry, wouldn’t the state of California have a bureau that lists prisoners held in state prisons? Wouldn’t Sacramento have a list or a database somewhere showing what happened to these two cop-killers?
This officer killed is my Great Grandfather. It’s weird to not find anything else other than this, given the era.
Cameron W., we are related. Russell Leidy was my great uncle.