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Waterloo Theater Group Plans To Reenact Historical City Event

Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department
Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department
Cedar Valley residents can watch a significant event in Waterloo’s history, 80 years after it happened. The Waterloo Community Playhouse is planning a reenactment of June 7th, 1934, the day local police shot and killed John Dillinger’s wheelman, Tommy Carroll.

Carroll was a long-time member of Dilliger’s notorious depression-era gang, which committed countless armed bank robberies, hostage kidnappings and murders throughout the Midwest in 1933 and 1934. The gang was responsible for the deaths of numerous law enforcement officers during its reign of terror.

On March 13, 1934, Carroll was the wheelman when Dillinger and his men robbed the First National Bank in Mason City for $52,344. The gang fled to St. Paul, Minnesota, after the heist, then disappeared for awhile.

Nearly a month later, the FBI tracked Dillinger’s gang to its hideout in northern Wisconsin. Federal agents raided the Little Bohemia Lodge near Rhinelander, but all the outlaws escaped during a shootout. An FBI agent was killed.

The gang robbed an Ohio bank in May, 1934, then dropped out of sight again.

On June 7, 1934, Carroll and his girlfriend stopped for gas and lunch while driving through Waterloo.

Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department
Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department
“Police discover them, not knowing exactly who HE was,” said Dan Trelka, Waterloo’s Director of Safety Services. “But, there were suspicious circumstances, so the police tracked them down and tried to talk to them. There was a short foot pursuit and eventually a shooting where Tommy Carroll was captured because he was killed by police.”

Carroll died at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo (now the Pinecrest Building on Independence Avenue).

Trelka came up with the idea for the local reenactment after seeing similar reenactments in other cities across the country.

“I thought ‘This is a significant part of Waterloo’s history. Why don’t we try to do something in Waterloo, as well?'” he said. “(The idea) took shape from there and just took off.”

The reenactment, “Dillinger’s Wheelman in Waterloo”, is a fund-raiser for the Waterloo Community Playhouse and will be presented on June 7th and 8th, 2014.

A limited number of 300 tickets will be sold for each reenactment. The $10 tickets can be purchased online or through the theater group. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Brown Derby each night of the event.

Attendees should gather at the Brown Derby at 5 p.m. for a showing of the Universal Studios movie “Public Enemies,” starring Johnny Depp as Dillinger and Spencer Garrett as Carroll. Hor d’oeuvres and appetizers will be available. Following the movie, a short documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. The reenactment will follow outside on Sycamore Street.

“It’ll be a good time. It’ll be entertaining. It’ll be a little part of our history,” said Trelka, who will be involved in the reenactment. “My greatest goal is that, we have a great downtown. I want to draw more and more people into our downtown to enjoy it. This a way to do that.”

Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department
Courtesy: Waterloo Police Department

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