Dakota Datebook

Buck-Shot Robber

Friday, May 17, 2013

 

In 1922, two young Logan County farmers learned the hard way that a life of crime doesn’t pay. The 21-year-old men, Myron Haines and Irwin Sparks, decided to try their hand at armed robbery, but after both a car and foot chase, they ended up nursing their wounds behind bars.

On the evening of May 17th, 1922, Haines and Sparks drove to Cleveland, North Dakota and walked into the popular Motor Inn. Brandishing weapons, the young men held up the proprietor, Mr. Ahlen, as they loaded up their car with goods from the Inn’s stockroom. Afterward, the now-fugitive farmers took off in their vehicle, leaving behind a dazed and disturbed Mr. Ahlen. By morning, however, Ahlen and another Cleveland resident, Ward Pomeroy, were hot on their trail. With the help of daylight, they were able to see the peculiar tread of the bandit’s tire tracks on the dirt roads. It took most of the day for the tenacious pursuers to track the car nearly forty miles, from Cleveland to Streeter, and fifteen miles further to the Haines farmstead.

They alerted Logan County Sheriff Balzer, and the three men returned to the farm to confront the thieves. There, they found the stolen goods, and although Haines and Sparks admitted to the theft, they quickly took off on yet another bid for freedom – this time on foot. Sheriff Balzer, Pomeroy, and Ahlen were quickly in pursuit, and after a run of some miles, they spotted the fugitives behind a distant rock pile.

Sparks quickly surrendered, leaving his accomplice behind, but Haines intended to shoot it out. After a short gunfight, he ran from the protection afforded by the rock pile, and was intercepted by Pomeroy, armed with a shotgun. Both men fired simultaneously. Pomeroy’s shot hit Haines squarely in the head, while Haines missed Pomeroy completely. With a head full of buckshot, Haines lost consciousness.

Apparently, little sympathy was felt in those parts for armed robbers, as Stutsman County Sheriff Dana Wright soon arrived to take both men to the Stutsman County jail, conscious or not.

 

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job

 

Sources:

http://www.infomercantile.com/dakota_death_trip/Shot_In_His_Head_1334440533.html (Dakota Death Trip blog posted by D. Dahlsad, The Bismarck Tribune, May 19, 1922; May 20, 1922).

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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