Friday, February 10, 2012

Kate "Ma" Barker

Kate "Ma" Barker (born Arizona Donnie Clark; October 8, 1873 – January 16, 1935) was the mother of several criminals who ran the Barker gang.

The Barker gang was responsible for a multitude of crimes and the death of at least 5 police officers.

Arizona Donnie Clark gave birth to four sons. The boys were named Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred. After the birth of Fred, George Barker left the family, though it may have been at the insistence of his wife. At some point, she began using the name Kate Barker.

There is no question the "Ma" Barker brood was responsible for many, many crimes, and several times Kate faced the authorities on behalf of her sons, trying to keep them from serving jail time. Contrary to FBI reports she was never the ringleader of the gang.

Just before daybreak on January 16, 1935, the FBI arrived outside the two-story house where Barker and her son Fred were hiding out. A call for their surrender was met with no response. After a few moments, FBI Agent Earl Connelly yelled, "Unless you come on out, we're going to start shooting!"

Ma replied, "Go ahead." What followed was the longest gunbattle the FBI was ever involved in; it lasted four hours and there are reports that a minimum of 1500 rounds of ammunition were poured into the house.

Eventually "Ma" Barker and Fred were shot to death. It is said that Herbert Hoover personally authorized the disinformation campaign to defend the shooting of an innocent old woman by the FBI.

Barker's sole surviving son, Lloyd, joined the US Army as a cook, received the US Army Good Conduct Medal and Honorable Discharge.

On March 18, 1949 Lloyd Barker was killed by his wife who was later sent to Colorado State Insane Asylum.

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