The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 11, 2013

Police decluttering won’t include Tommy gun

SHARON — Some old police records are heading for the shredder to clear some storage space at Sharon Police Department.

But the housecleaning won’t apply to a Thompson submachine gun tied by local legend to John Dillinger. The .45-caliber Tommy gun has been in the department’s arsenal for decades and isn’t going anywhere, Chief Mike Menster said.

The question arose last week after City Manager Scott Andrejchak told city council about plans to dispose of old records. That prompted Councilman Tom Burke, a retired police chief, to ask if the city might again try to sell the gun said to have been bought for the city by local bankers during the Depression when Dillinger and other infamous criminals were robbing banks.

“The legend is that Dillinger was robbing banks in this area in the 1930s,” Menster said. “I’ve been told the Tommy gun was bought for the department by McDowell Bank, but I don’t know if anybody could confirm that. The story goes that all the banks were worried about being robbed and they knew Dillinger had a Tommy gun so they wanted to level the playing field.”

Over the years, the department looked into selling the historic gun to buy modern weapons police would actually use. However, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms nixed the idea of selling it to a museum with guarantees that it would never be used on the streets, Lt. Gerald Smith said.

“It was bought for law enforcement use and they told us in a letter that it could only be used for law enforcement or sold in parts,” he said.

A gun dealer in 1985 offered $600 for the magazine that holds 50 bullets and there have been other offers for parts but the department isn’t interested, Smith said.

The iconic gun last fired in the 1990s is still in working order and holds interest for many people. The department would like to display it but Menster said that isn’t practical.

“It would be nice if we could safely display it but I don’t know how you would do it,” he said.

As for the records, City Manager Scott Andrejchak said historical societies can contact him about any interest they may have in the records. Menster said, though, “There’s nothing of much historical value” about the 15 bankers’ boxes of such things as old time sheets and traffic citations from the 1980s and ’90s that will be destroyed by a contractor certified to shred unwanted records.

“We have investigative reports that date back to the 1930s but we are not getting rid of those,” the police chief said.


Text Only
Local News
  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos