How Fargo Season 4 Pays Homage to the Union Station Massacre


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FBI agents Frank Smith and F. Joseph Lackey, along with Otto Reed, the Chief of the McAlester, Oklahoma Police, caught up with Nash in a store in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on June 16, 1933, according to the official FBI site. At 8:30 p.m. they escorted Nash on a Missouri Pacific train from Fort Smith, Arkansas. It was due to arrive at Kansas City, Missouri at 7:15 a.m. on June 17. News of the transfer made the morning edition of the Kansas City Star.

The FBI page maintains the plan to snatch Nash was put together by Richard Tallman Galatas, Herbert Farmer, “Doc” Louis Stacci, and Frank B. Mulloy. There are reports Kansas City gangster John Lazia  was also to help. Lazia controlled votes on the North Side of Kansas City, making him a darling of political “boss” Tom Pendergast and city manager Henry McElroy. Lazia bribed almost every cop in the police department, or he got associates on the force. This makes it likely he would have known about the prison transfer. The head of the Kansas City crime family was more of a politician than a gangster, and Lazia allegedly farmed the job out to Adam Richetti and Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, who earned the FBI distinction of being Public Enemy No. 1 after the grab became a bloodbath.

Floyd and Richetti’s car broke down in Bolivar, Missouri, on the way to Kansas City, according to the FBI site. While getting it fixed, Sheriff Jack Killingsworth came into the garage. Richetti and Floyd, armed with a machine gun and two .45 pistols, respectively, ordered the sheriff and the mechanics against the wall. The two gunmen moved their stash of weapons into another car, along with the sheriff and drove to Deepwater, Missouri. They stole another car and made it to Kansas City by 10:00 the night before the transfer, where they were filled in on the details.

Seven law enforcement officers, a mix of FBI agents, Kansas City Police Department officers and Chief Reed, armed with shotguns and pistols, walked Nash through Union Station to a Chevrolet parked directly in front of the entrance. Two men ran out from behind a green Plymouth which was parked about six feet away, as another man emerged from behind the radiator of another car across the street, and they opened fire. Three officers survived the 30 second exchange. Captive Frank Nash was not one of them.

The incident marked the second agent death in FBI history. Armed with a latent fingerprint on a beer bottle, the massacre’s lead investigator J. Edgar Hoover, accused Richetti and “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Hoover went on to become the first FBI director. The Bureau shook down the entire Midwest criminal world looking for the mobsters. Like many gangsters, Floyd was beloved by the people where he grew up. During bank robberies he would be sure to destroy mortgage papers. The people of Oklahoma called him “the Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills.”  

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