Armed robbers kill King County Sheriff's Deputy Robert C. Scott on April 4, 1920.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 5/01/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3756

On April 4, 1920, King County Sheriff's Deputy Robert C. Scott is shot and killed by armed robbers on Rainier Avenue near Cloverdale Station. Deputy Scott and four other deputies encounter two masked men who are systematically flagging down and robbing motorists at gunpoint. After the officer is shot, the bandits take two motorists hostage and speed away in their automobile. One robber kills the other in an argument.

On the evening of April 3, 1920, two masked men set up a roadblock on Maple Valley Rd. east of Renton, using their automobile. They stopped motorists and robbed at least five "auto parties" (Seattle P-I) at gunpoint. Then the bandits drove towards Seattle and set up a similar roadblock on Rainier Avenue near Cloverdale Station shortly after midnight.

Earl M. Eba, noticed that his car was being driven north on Rainier Avenue by two unknown men. Eba gave chase in another car accompanied his friend A. J. Smith. "We hadn't gone very far before we came upon my car ditched by the side of the road" (Seattle P-I). The robbers had stopped another car with three people and were robbing them. The suspects were confronting Eba when a car with five deputies drove up.

According to press reports, the deputies fired first and the robbers shot back. One of the first shots hit and killed Deputy Robert C. Scott who was riding in the front seat. Approximately 20 shots were fired in the battle, one of which disabled the deputies' car.

The bandits ordered Eba and Smith to drive them towards Seattle on Rainier Avenue. The robbers told their hostages that they would kill them if they were stopped by police. Enroute to Seattle, Eba and J. Smith heard a shot in the back seat. "This was the shot that ended the bandit's life," Eba said (Seattle P-I).

Elmer Cady was apparently shot by his partner "Blackie," later identified as Albert Guettel, a shipyard laborer and a drug addict. Guettel ordered Eba to stop at 1st Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle and told the hostages to take Cady to the hospital. Then Guettel fled. Cady was found "sitting up stiffly in the back seat" (Seattle P-I) with his pockets turned inside out.

"Shoot to Kill"

Seattle Police and King County Sheriff's Deputies began searching for the suspect and notified police in Everett, Tacoma, and Portland. "I have instructed my deputies to shoot to kill," Sheriff John Stringer was quoted as saying. "The robberies outside the city limits in recent months have almost equalled those inside the city" (Seattle P-I). Two men were arrested in Portland, but then released after being cleared. Guettel's photo was published in daily newspapers.

Robert C. Scott was 32 years old and had a wife and two children.


Sources:

"Posses Hunt Bandits Who Kill Deputy Sheriff After Robbing Five Auto Parties," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 4, 1920, p. 1 (transcribed by Sgt. Tom Smith, King County Sheriff's Office); "Elmer Cady Pays Life Forfeit For Holdup Of Autos," Ibid.; "Shoot To Kill Order Issued Against Bandits," Ibid.; "Authorities Seek Slayer Of Scott," Ibid., April 10, 1920, p. 10. Special thanks to Sgt. Tom Smith, King County Sheriff's Office, for calling this incident to our attention and for sharing research material.


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