Commerce, Okla., Constable William Cal Campbell was the last victim of the Barrow Gang
Notorious gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow terrorized the countryside, stealing automobiles, robbing banks and killing anybody who got in their way.
During their two-year reign, they were responsible for the slayings of nine law enforcement officers in four states – Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
One of their victims was Commerce, Okla., Constable William Cal Campbell.
Campbell, 61, was killed on April 6, 1934, in a spray of bullets. He was Bonnie and Clyde’s last victim, according to published reports.
A memorial to the fallen father of eight children was erected 67 years after his death and is located in front of Commerce City Hall.
A news account from the Commerce News is engraved on the monument.
“The city of Commerce lost a good officer needlessly to a cowardly act,” said Commerce Police Chief Ernie Shelby. “More importantly, a family lost their beloved father and husband.
“I have spoken with people that knew Cal, and they told me what a good man he was and how he loved his job and the people of Commerce,” Shelby said.
Cal was the Constable for Division 2 of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, which was based in Commerce, but he will always be considered a member of the Commerce Police Department, he said.
The killing occurred five days after Bonnie and Clyde killed two highway patrolmen near Grapevine, Texas.
Parker, Barrow and Henry Methvin were traveling on the muddy back roads near Commerce when their car got stuck. A passing motorist frightened by the guns stacked in Clyde Barrow’s car sped away and notified Commerce Police Chief Percy Boyd.
The Commerce law enforcement officers drove upon the Barrow gang as they were trying to free the car out of the mud.
Gunfire ensued and Campbell was fatally shot in the abdomen, near his left hip, and his lifeless body was left in the middle of the road. Boyd was shot in the head and taken to Fort Scott, Kan., where he was released.
Campbell’s obituary, published in The Miami Daily News-Record, Miami,Okla., states Campbell was the “victim of the blood-stained hands of Clyde Barrow or his hoodlum ally.”
“Campbell was shot down Friday in a gun battle in which he and Chief of Police Percy Boyd faced the withering fire of the Texas desperado and criminal associate,” the obituary reads. “The shooting occurred near the Lost Trail Mine. The toll of lives that the Southwest’s public enemy No. 1 has exacted in his terrorizing spree the last year was believed to have reached nine with the Commerce officer’s death. Mayor J. R. Grimes has requested that Commerce business houses close from 2 o’clock until 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon in tribute to the dead officer.”
It was never known who killed Cal Campbell. He was laid to rest in the G.A.R. Cemetery in Miami.
About six weeks after Campbell’s slaying, police ambushed and killed Bonnie and Clyde outside Gibsland, La., on May 23, 1934.