On May 24, 1932, just before noon, the Grand Rapids Savings Bank Wealthy branch in Grand Rapids was robbed by 4 bank robbers. Three of the robbers entered the bank while one remained in the car. Eventually, two additional men would be suspected to have played a role in the robbery, totaling six participating robbers.
This robbery is significant in Lowell history because after the robbery the robbers split up, with two of them taking M-21 to return to Detroit. As they headed east through Lowell, Deputy Charles Knapp attempted to stop the fleeing car but was shot and killed. Though mortally wounded, Deputy Knapp was able to fire shots at the fleeing bank robbers.
The robbers initially escaped despite the best efforts of the village of Lowell. The citizens and local law enforcement responded instantly. The first to begin pursuit of the bandits were Deputy Pat Bowes and Tony Gazella. Paul Kellogg was on the lookout and was getting gas at the Dixie station on East Main Street. Kellogg had a gun, so he jumped in his car and followed, overtaking the Bowes car. As his car was faster, but he couldn’t shoot and drive, Kellogg stopped, and Tony Gazella jumped in with him. Unfortunately, they went all the way to Saranac before realizing the robbers had turned. A.H. Stormzand and Dr. Stryker were in close pursuit. V.E. Ashley, Forrest Smith and a ledger reporter headed north. Additional armed citizens in automobiles were in pursuit, lending their aid to law enforcement. In all, upwards of 300 men engaged in one of the greatest man hunts in the state’s history.
Though it took from four hours to twenty-two years, all six men were apprehended, faced their day in court, and all but one were sentenced to prison.
The first to be captured was James Gallagher, whose name was actually Walter Galloway. Gallagher was captured at 4 p.m., four hours after the robbery. He was picked up in Smyrna while asking Carl Gasper, a farmer, for a ride to Belding. He confessed and testified against the others. He was sentenced to Jackson prison for 20-30 years. He served 11 years.
The next day, Henry Marshall and Jack Scherr were captured in Smyrna, attempting to recover the loot. Henry Marshall, whose birth name was Henry Marszalek was identified as the shooter who murdered Deputy Knapp. He was sentenced on June 16, 1932, to life in prison and was sent to Marquette prison. He was transferred to Jackson for a time, and eventually his sentence was commuted by Governor Williams on March 30, 1959. He later died on May 16, 1963.
Jack Scherr was found to be uninvolved in the robbery. He had been asked by Marshall to drive him to Smyrna. Marshall intended to dig up the loot he had buried but stated he had not told Scherr of his plans or the robbery.
Louis Gold, whose name was Louis Goldberg, was convicted of armed robbery, though he was not at the robbery himself. His role was to lend the robbers his car, which they used when they split up after the robbery. Vincent Henry and Carrol Johnson escaped in Gold’s car and dropped it off in front of Gold’s Detroit home. Gold’s wife then drove the car back to Grand Rapids to pick up Gold from her sister’s house where he had stayed for several days. Gold was sent to Jackson prison for 40 - 50 years on June 30, 1932. He was paroled on July 22, 1941, and was discharged on July 22, 1946.
Carrol Johnson, whose name was Charles Kent was arrested in February of 1934 in Camden New Jersey on charges of a payroll robbery. He was then connected to the Grand Rapids robbery through his fingerprints. He served his time in New Jersey before being brought to Grand Rapids. He was sentenced to Jackson and served his time from May 20, 1953, until he was paroled on March 3, 1954.
Vincent Henry was the last to be found. He was arrested in Bayone, New Jersey in 1946 when he couldn’t produce a draft card. Ironically, he had not registered for the draft for fear of being caught. He was convicted and sent to Jackson on November 8, 1946, for 5 - 15 years. He served his time there until April 29, 1954, when he was paroled to the custody of the Illinois parole authority.
Marshall and Scherr
Marshal's mugshot from Marquette
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