|Up the street I saw a guy with his hands in the air, but I
didn't know who he was. Then I heard gunfire and (Al Brady) was dead, too."
Along with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the deaths of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, the Brady Gang massacre was a unique moment in the lives of many Maine people.
Most can pinpoint exactly where they were and what they were doing when the story broke.
"I was just finishing breakfast at the New Atlantic Restaurant on Main Street when somebody hollered, "There's been a shooting!"" recalled Kalil Ayoob. "We followed the crowd rushing to the scene. It looked like the running of the bulls in Spain."
The buz around town was that the FBI had just routed the Brady Gang. Most in Bangor had never heard of the Indiana outlaws, even though Brady was Public Enemy No.1 Capping an exhaustive manhunt, J. Edgar Hoover's G-men sprang their trap, killing Brady and Shaffer and capturing a third bandit, Rhuel James Dalhover, inside Dakin's where he had returned to buy a submachine gun.
Ayoob gathered information at the scene and sprinted to the Bangor Daily Commercial, where, as the paper's 21 year old state editor, he and other staffers set about assembling a special edition to go to press in just hours. The Bangor Daily News also rushed an extra into print that day.
Both papers chronicled the life and death of the Brady Gang, allowing today's readers a colorful peek into an era many didn't live through. Combined with newly discovered details about the gangsters' lives and the Bangor shootout, the saga can be relived six decades after gunfire shattered a serene October morning.
Indiana probably never saw a less likely outlaw trio than the Brady Gang, nicknamed "the Midget Bandits" or "Half-Pint Killers" because of their small stature. Since they were young and led domesticated lives even while on the lam , each appeared innocent, a far cry from the hatchet-faced Edward G. Robinson cutting it up in gangster movies.
A love of callow women, fast cars and easy money was the glue that held the gang together. They also shared abusive childhoods, unleashed on society as bitter young men struggling to survive during the Great Depression.
Brady and Dalhover were country boys; Shaffer, the youngest of the three, a city kid. Al was only 2 when his father, Roy, was killed in a farming accident, and when he was 14, his stepfather, John R. Biddle, died of gunshot wounds. Cynics in North Salem, Indiana, where Clara Brady had taken her only child to live whispered that either she or Al had done away with the old farmer.