It was a sunny, cool New England morning on October 12, 1937, when notable bastard and all-around evil scumbag Clarence Lee Shaffer Jr. walked through the front door of Dakin’s Sporting Goods, a small outdoor shop on the main street of Bangor, Maine. Pulling his coat about him and adjusting his sweet gangster-style pre-hipster fedora hat, Shaffer calmly informed the ordinary-looking store clerk that he’d placed an order for three Thompson submachine guns a few weeks earlier, and that he was here to pick them up.
Clarence Lee Shaffer was a member of the notorious Brady Gang – a hellacious, murder-tastic gang of convicted felons who had spent the previous two years wreaking havoc on the law-abiding citizens of Indiana in an epic crime spree that makes even the most mayhem-infused multiplayer GTA V games look like a couple of idiot teenagers pulling the mattress tag off a fucking Sealy Posturepedic at the goddamn mall. They’d stolen those awesome-as-hell gangster cars with the backwards doors, and drove away with dudes standing on the running boards spraying bullets arbitrarily into orphanages and old folks’ homes. They’d robbed nearly two hundred banks, knocked over a few convenience stores, roughed up politicians, and murdered a half-dozen people. The three men of the Brady Gang, already listed as Public Enemy Number One by the FBI, had been caught by Indiana lawmen in 1936, but all this did was piss them off – screaming “fuck the police” these guys fought their way out of prison, killed a guard, then set an ambush for the cops who tried to track them down and ended up shooting two officers in the gun battle.
Now these guys were on the lam, and they were trying to buy full-auto submachine guns from some random store in the middle of Maine.
Shaffer looked around impatiently as the mild-mannered store clerk looked around for the order. The clerk asked Shaffer to come around to see if he could see it, but then – completely out of nowhere – as soon as Shaffer was off-guard the clerk suddenly flipped his shit over to Ultimate Badass Mode, grabbed the ex-con by the arm, slapped a pair of handcuffs on him, and hauled him down to the ground with a sweet-as-hell takedown. The gangster shouted for help, but before he could cause too much noise a second clerk came up to assist, grabbing Shaffer and pulling him back towards the back of the store.
The store clerk stood up to his full height, and commandingly identified himself as Special Agent Walter Walsh, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Turning from his quarry, the g-man quickly spun on his heel to try and see if he could get a visual on either of the other murderous killers of the infamous Brady Gang.
The second he turned around, Special Agent Walsh’s eyes met with those of a vicious-looking man in a gray fedora, giving him a death stare through the glass door of Dakin’s Sporting Goods. It was Brady Gang member James Dalhover – a spree-killing psycho with an excellent view of his good buddy Clarence Lee Shaffer being dragged into police custody by a pair of flatfoot coppers.
For a split-second, neither man moved. When they did, it was like a pair of goddamn gunslinging lightning bolts striking a nuclear reactor at the same fucking time.
With the precision and speed that only comes from decades of hardcore dedication, FBI Agent Walter Walsh quick-drew not one but two pistols simultaneously – a Colt .45 and a .357 Magnum – dove to the side in slow motion like some kind of crazy Max Payne / John Woo shit, and opened fire on the mass-murdering bank-robbing maniac standing less than five feet away from him. Dalhover, a Capone-era hardened killer, drew his piece as well, opening fire with a spray of .45s.
Walsh took one in the hand and one in the shoulder, blood shooting from his wounds, but his bullets found their mark – Dalhover was riddled with slugs and dead before he hit the pavement. Walsh hit the ground, sprung back up, and stepped through the shattered glass front door into the street, where yet another danger presented itself – the Brady Gang leader himself, Al Brady, taking cover behind a sweet-ass old car, reaching in the back seat for his pistol.
Walsh stormed out of the building, pistols blazing. Brady leaned over the car , firing his pistol, driving another round into Walsh’s chest. The FBI man staggered back, regained his footing, and drilled Brady with a couple ultra-accurate shots straight to the dome.
The entire thing had lasted seconds. When the smoke cleared, Walter Walsh was still standing tall, and every member of the FBI’s Most Wanted gang was either dead by his hand or being hauled off to prison.
Actual crime scene.
Walter Walsh was born in 1907 in Hoboken, New Jersey. He’d started shooting at 12, when his dad bought him a .22-caliber Mossberg to shoot rats around the family home, and once that got a little too easy for him Walsh got really good at shooting clothespins off the laundry line in his backyard. At 16 he lied about his age to join the New Jersey National Guard, and within just a few years the eagle-eyed lefty was winning national competitions for rifle and pistol marksmanship.
After getting a Law degree from Rutgers while still in the Guard (he was smart as well as capable of shooting a wart off your balls from three hundred yards), 27-year-old Walter Walsh decided to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1934. It was the first year FBI Agents were allowed to carry guns, and in their search for good marksmen to join their ranks the FBI found a dude who could bulls-eye moving targets at 75 yards with dual-wielded pistols. Dude was so fucking good that some of his co-workers at the Bureau used to joke that they’d trust him to shoot a cigarette out of their mouths like a badass influenza-hating William Tell.
Working an FBI beat wasn’t exactly fun fucking times during the Great Depression, when Public Enemy outlaws like Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and Pretty Boy Floyd were running around the highways and byways of the United States hosing assholes down with fully-automatic machine guns and double-barrel shotguns. Quickly rising to the ranks of the top agents, Walsh was responsible for tracking down bank robbers, cold-blooded murders, Mafiosi, and other horrible people that were far more likely to whip out a BAR and start smoking Feds than they were to walk backwards slowly with their hands behind their heads.
Luckily for the FBI, Walter Walsh was damn good at his job. In 1934 he tracked down the final resting place of Baby Face Nelson. In ’35 he was driving around the murder-soaked blood-drenched streets of Chicagoland when he spotted the dangerous outlaw Doc Barker, a hatchetman for the Barker Gang. Walsh slammed on the brakes of his car, jumped out, and sprinted down the street after Doc. The gangster started running, but Walsh ran him down, jammed a .45 in his face, and did what was probably the first-ever recitation of the “Do you feel lucky punk?” speech. Doc surrendered, was hauled off to Alcatraz, and later that same fucking day Walter Walsh got in a shootout with a hardened gangster known as “Slim Gray” Gibson. Walsh’s only description of the gunfight was this: “He shot high. I didn’t.”
In his decade of service to the FBI, Walsh is credited with killing between 11 and 17 gangsters in shootouts.
Special Agent Walsh served in the FBI from 1934 to 1942, when he took a temporary leave of absence to join the fucking United States Marine Corps and fight in World War II. The Marines assigned the 35-year-old G-Man to teach USMC marksmen at Sniper School in New York, but after a couple years doing that he decided that there wasn’t enough terrifying live-fire combat in his life so he requested a fucking transfer to the goddamned front lines of World War II.
The Marines sent him to Okinawa in 1945.
Walsh landed on the beach with the Marines, fought his way through the outer defenses, and then was part of a team that found itself pinned down by a hardcore Japanese sniper hiding in a tunnel fortification a little more than 80 yards from the Marines’ position.
Walsh popped his head up once, got a visual on the sniper, calmly pulled out his Colt 1911, stood up, and dropped the fucking sniper with one shot from his pistol.
Walter Walsh returned home after the war, went into the Marine Corps reserve, and started entering shooting competitions. He set the world record at U.S. Nationals by nearly getting a perfect score in pistol marksmanship, won dozens of military, government, and civilian shooting competitions, finished 12th in the 1948 Summer Olympics, and captained the U.S. National Team at the International Shooting Championship in 1952 (which the U.S. won), and at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Even though he didn’t participate in any further Olympics (though he still won shooting competitions well into his 90s), he coached the U.S. Olympic shooting team until he retired in the year 2000. At the age of 92 fucking years old.
Oh yeah, and even though he retired from the FBI he continued training Marines, and was a teacher at the Marine Sniper School that got sharpshooters like Carlos Hathcock ready to serve on the front lines of the Vietnam War. He retired with the rank of Colonel in 1970.
So let’s recap for a second. Law graduate Walter Walsh of Hoboken, New Jersey, was a championship Olympic marksman, the FBI agent who single-handedly brought Public Enemy Number One to gunfire-infused justice in an epic shootout, a U.S. Marine who saved his entire squad from murderous snipers at Okinawa, a Vietnam Sniper School marksmanship instructor, and the 92-year-old coach of the United States Olympic Shooting Team.
Somehow, despite being under constant danger and almost always surrounded by loaded firearms – many of which were being used by antagonists in life-fire combat situations – Walter Walsh somehow led a long, full, productive life that had more adventure in a 24 hour span that most regular humans will ever experience in their entire lives.
He died last week at the age of 106.