Burgoyne Cafe Shooting

 

The incident began on 3 Feb 1922 at the coal mine near Oakley Wyoming.  Suki "Sam" Suzurki, the Japanese paymaster had just returned to his cabin with about $3000 in cash when a knock at the door revealed two men, Gustas Thanos and A Sardo.  They shot Sam's wife and him immediately and after ransacking the cabin could not find the money.  As they were running from the cabin workers spotted them and the alarm was raised.

The Chief of Police in Montpelier, John Hillier received his all points bulletin and carried it to each place of business in Montpelier. He went first to the railroad area, thinking the men might have hidden away on a freight.  After a thorough search he began a systematic check at the hotels and upon arriving at the Burgoyne Hotel about 1:30,the night clerk, a man named Chapin, recalled registering two men about midnight the night before into room 26.  No one had seen them since and assumed them to be still in the room.  They had registered as Gus Gorkous and A Sardo.

Hillier immediately summoned aid.  Night watchman Jack Heggie was roused from his daily slumber and arrived at the cafe just before the two men came down for their noon meal.  Hillier and Heggie stationed themselves in positions of advantage and allowed the two men to finish their meal.  As tjey rose and walked toward the cash register the lawmen closed in.

Hillier, with his hand on his gun, approached Thanos and said "You are under arrest!"  Immediately the Greek reached for his gun and Hillier shot him through the mouth.  The slug staggered the man but did not stop him.  He emptied his gun before going down.  Every bullet went wild and the officer was unscathed.  As the younger man made his play he was dropped beside his dying companion.

It was all over is a just a matter of minutes.  Both men were dying and neither officer had been injured.  Bullets flying around inside the cafe narrowly missed Russell Wright of Bennington, who was having a sandwich.  He discovered afterwards that one slug had passed through his outer clothing but did not break through his silk shirt.  It came so close as to leave an ugly red welt on his arm.

The bandits bodies were taken up the street to the F M Williams home where they were on display inside the mortuary until after positive identification was made.  Word was flashed out to the mine that the men had been caught and killed.  Immediately the mine officials and many of the Japanese workers came to Montpelier.  Once satisfied these were the men they wanted, they paid the reward money.  Each officer received $375 and the night clerk and hotel manager each received $125.

 

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