A Bank Is Robbed, A Cop Is Killed, A Movement Is Hung



Wednesday, September 23:

"BOSTON, MASS.-Three bandits held up a Brighton branch of the State Street Bank shortly after it opened for business today and shot a Boston patrolman in the back while making their getaway.

"The patrolman, Walter Schroeder, 42, a decorated Boston police officer, was rushed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton where he is reported in critical condition.

"The bandits who escaped with $26,000 are targets of a widespread search by police and FBI."

And thereby hangs a tale.

Thursday, September 24:

The front page headline in the Boston Globe read "Priest, Housewife Stabbed to Death"; above it, as an addendum shuffled off to the side of a picture of the wounded cop was the reminder "Officer Wounded During Brighton Bank Robbery." Details of the now famous State Street Bank robbery did not appear on page one. In the back sections, the Globe included four paragraphs on the incident, referring to it as "one of three bank robberies in New England yesterday."

The Globe and the Herald-Traveler treated the story as another day of humdrum violence, hardly cause for alarm compared to the previous day's announcement that Nixon would send 1000 FBI men on campuses. The story was one of those barstool classics that only the Record-American could relish, and they did.

A "gun happy robber gang," the Record reported, converged on the bank and immediately fired a shot into the wall "to show they meant business." While escaping, they fired 30 bullets. "At least four of the shots fired by the bandits crashed into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Antony Rossi of 287 Everett St., one smashing into the wall just above a picture of Jesus," the Record continued. Another bullet struck patrolman Schroeder in the back after he rushed in the front door of the bank trying to capture the robbers.

A suspect in the robbery, Robert Valeri, 21, identified through bank pictures, was arrested as he stepped from a cab, in front of his Somerville home Wednesday night. Paroled last June from Walpole State Prison after serving two years for car theft and attempted burglary,Valeri was held for questioning.

The office of Boston Police Commissioner Edmund L. McNamara Thursday morning filled up quickly. Patrolman Schroeder had just died a half hour before in St. Elizabeth's where he underwent four hours of surgery and had received 77 pints of blood.

This was McNamara's first press conference in more than a year. If some reporters expected McNamara simply to culogize the slain officer and offer his condolences to the family, others knew the Commissioner's growing anger and confusion over what was happening in his city. Over the summer, a Roxbury police station was bombed; another station was hit in nearly Burlington; and reports of police slain in Des Moines, San Francisco, and Minneapolis received more than passing consideration as they crossed his desk.

McNamara accepted the Commissioner's job from former mayor John Collins, who wanted to upgrade the position by bringing in a professional cop rather than another in the long line of politicians who had occupied it previously. After 18 years as an FBI agent, McNamara was not accustomed to dealing with the highly politicized role in which he was cast. As the police liaison with City Hall, he had to contend with political tampering from above and internal pressure "to take off the handcuffs" from below. He was the mediator and fixer in all personal police matters: off duty cops getting drunk, one cop screwing another's wife, extortion attempts on individual cops from their friends, etc., and the enforcer of all departmental rules, all city laws, and all of the political edicts.

It's an uncomfortable position in which most of the people the Commissioner deals with wear their feelings on their sleeves. The job does not breedsubtlety; the best you can hope for is honesty. And McNamara this morning was honest to the point of embarrassment.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're damned radicals and damned revolutionaries," he blasted out as Schroeder's brother, also a police officer, stood weeping in the background. Admitting he had no "documented evidence," McNamara charged that the crime was not "an individual act" but one with "undertones of revolutionary type individuals" (sic), a violent robbery and murder committed by "a conspiracy involving more than these five."

Hostile reporters pressed McNamara for clarification. This was the first time the possibility of radical involvement had been mentioned. Declining to give further information, McNamara unloaded some unguarded "personal opinions." "When a group springs up from our colleges that robs banks, that's revolutionary," he said curtly. Are all college students bank robbing revolutionaries? "No," he answered, "I have two daughters in college and they're not revolutionaries." A precarious friendship with Mayor White after the Hemenway incidents, a nation-wide wave of radical bombings, a timid Boston citizenry, afraid to go on the streets at night, a soaring heroin problem, a dead herocop, a police department that wants to bust some heads, and two daughters living right in the midst of the enemy! Commissioner McNamara broke all rules on pre-trial publicity and ... blew his cool.

Bedraggled reporters left the Commissioner's press conference with a police identification on five suspects, including Valeri- who was already in custody (and it turns out, provided the other names)- the Commissioner's word that two of them were Brandeis students involved in "radical organizations," and McNamara's charge (perhaps it seemed more like a promise) that this was a "conspiracy involving more than these five."

Carrying along their notes and their doubts, they trundled off to their papers at 11 a.m. that morning where anxious editors voraciously awaited the new evidence.

The four additional suspects are: William "Lefty" Gilday, 41, a June parolee from Walpole who like Valeri was scheduled to enroll in Northeastern University this fall; Stanley R. Bond, 26, another ex-convict from Walpole who entered Brandeis last February on the special prison STEP program; Kathy Power, 21, a Brandeis senior active in the national student strike center there through the spring and summer; and Susan Saxe, 21, a June graduate of Brandeis, magna cum laude in American and English Literature.

Contacted at their home in Albany, New York, Susan Saxe's parents vehemently denied that their daughter was involved in the robbery. She had lost her purse during the summer and they assumed the woman suspect was using the identification.

Their daughter was currently in Portland, Oregon, the mother explained. She had gone there Sept. 1 to work in a bookstore which was run by the mother of Brandeis Sociology Professor Neil T. Friedman, a young leftist professor who had been one of seven Brandeis faculty sponsors of the student strike information center.

"You can verify it with him," the mother said, "he met her at the airport and took her to his mother's house."

Police reportedly found two empty satchels from the State Street Bank and a purple dress, allegedly worn by Kathy Power during the hold-up, in a locker at Logan Airport. A passenger named "K. Power" was booked on the flight list of 10 a.m. plane to Los Angeles.

A man resembling the description of Lefty Gilday was reportedly seen in the Kennedy Restaurant in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, Thursday night. The bartender said he called himself "Sean Kelly." He was drunk, flashing a gun and roll of bills, and mumbling something about "killing all pigs," the bartender said.

The Boston Globe is an interesting set of contradictions. Once every year, they run the editorial of the founding fathers about how they are a community newspaper, dedicated to the betterment of the city, the country, the people, the flag, the constitution, the land, the works. On the other days, their editorials discuss what's wrong with the city, the country, the flag, the constitution, the people, etc. Around the country, they are considered one of the most liberal papers in America (witness their proud status as the first major newspaper to oppose the Vietnam War).

It is not unusual to find the evils of the Vietnam War displayed prominently on the front page one day, and the same slot filled by the wonders of the midi in Boston the next. The paper is, in short, inconsistent. It has staunchly liberal and stauncrly conservative reporters, who contradict each other constantly; and a conglomerate editorial page where editorialists have been known to run articles denouncing the columnists. Such divisions, however, are considered all part of putting out a good paper.

On Thursday night, the Globe received a telephone tip that Kathy Power lived at 163 Beacon Street and the apartment might be an interesting place to go searching for clues. Last year, on a similar tip involving a Weatherman raid on a high school, the Globe sent over a reporter and photographer, but did not inform police. They later explained that giving the information to police would be violating the confidentiality of their sources and might hinder their ability to talk with radical groups in the future.

In a similar situation Thursday, they informed police of the "tip" and proudly wrote "In a raid Thursday night on information supplied to the police by the Globe... "

The raid turned up two high-power rifles, a passport recently stamped for Cuba, one shotgun, a box of assorted ammunition, and an army field radio stamped "Company A, 101st Engineers." The radio was positively identified as having come from the U.S. Armory near Newburyport which had been burglarized and fire-bombed the week before, presumably, said police by "radical types."

Friday, September 25:

"Radicals Linked To Police Slaying"- Herald-Traveler.

"Charge Hero Cop Slain by 5 Student Radicals"- Record-American.

On the basis of McNamara's Thursday press conference, the Boston papers went wild with the hint of radical involvement in the bank hold-up. The priest and housewife who were so prominently stabbed on the front page of the papers the morning before were buried between the girdle ads Friday.

There was no evidence Friday (and there is still no public evidence today) which indicates that 41-year-old Lefty Gilday was either a student or a radical. Valeri also was neither a student or, by his background, a radical. Although enrolled in Northeastern during the Fall under the prison STEP program, Gilday and Valeri never attended a class there. Gilday had been in and out of prison nine times since 1947. A former pitcher in the Washington Senators farm system in 1964, Gilday was known as a hard-drinking, fast-talking, impulsive man.

In prison, he worked hard to get his parole, and finally came through last June. He was active in prison sports and special educational programs at Walpole and got a reputation as a "jailhouse lawyer" for his column in the prison newspaper and the fact that he argued his own appeal to the Supreme Court once before losing.

Gilday was reported to be the alleged slayer of patrolman Schroeder.

Curiously, the news media turned a bank robbery in which a police officer was wounded into a cop slaying in which a bank was robbed. And the Boston public was more than ready to make psychological change in their own thinking.

In a little noticed interview Friday with Schroeder's partner, it came out that this was the same bank in which three years ago, Schroeder had single-handedly foiled another robbery, chasing and capturing the three bandits in a hospital ambulance.

"On the way down," said his partner, patrolman Callahan, "he said, 'this could be the real thing.' For some reason or other we both took our guns out of our holsters before we got there. We never do that," he added.

Callahan said Schroeder jumped out of the patrol car and ran for the front door of the bank while he went to cover the rear. When Schroeder realized he was running into the line of fire, he spun around and ran back, at which point, he was hit.

On the phone to Mrs. Saxe Friday afternoon, Professor Friedman told the woman his mother was in Philadelphia not Portland and she did not own a bookstore.

"She's never lied to us," Mrs. Saxe said as she hung up the phone.

"She's lied to us now, Rose, something is very wrong," her husband replied.

Brandeis acting president Charles I. Schottland was in a jam. The National Student Strike Information Center had been a bane to his administration since it was set up last Spring. First, there were immediate questions about its effect on the university's taxexempt status; second there were questions among his own faculty of its propriety; third, there were questions-many, many question- from alumni about contributing to a school that let its students run nation-wide strikes instead of studying. Fourth, the Brandeis students had said there is no question but the strike center must stay open.

During the Spring, workers in the center bustled around with more fervor than any other student body in the country. A New England co-ordinator, for instance, called the CRIMSON nearly every day to complain about the lack of initiative in our coverage. "What do you mean you've got your own problems?" he screamed one day. "Don't you know there's a strike going on? We've got to keep going. We can't quit. Everyone is watching us. This is our chance to make things work."

Kathy Power worked very hard in the strike center, as did almost everyone on campus. Susan Saxe worked there, and Stanley Bond. But Kathy was one of the leaders.

A transfer student from Syracuse, she arrived at Brandeis in 1968 and made it onto the dean's list. As a junior she ran for student council president and lost. During the strike, she often ran student meetings and had a hand in most of the major decisions. "Kathy was a very hard person to get along with," said one friend. "In Brandeis there are about 50 people who are realy hard core. It's a bad word, I know, but ever since sophomore year she was one of the hard core at Brandeis. She really wanted to make her name a reality- you know, to have power; she liked to control."

When the student strike center petered out, Kathy faded away. Over the summer, the Waltham tax assessor tried to close down the center. Officially, Brandeis complied; unofficially the center continued its work in campus buildings for several weeks. Finally the students brought suit to restrain Brandeis from closing the center, and the name of Kathy Power was one of five signatures at the bottom of the petition. "When the suit came up she was back, probably because she was the most articulate of the bunch and they needed a good spokesman," another friend said.

Schottland stood before the collected Boston press corps Friday, sensing that his job was to both appease and defend. In the back of the room, a highly efficient and likeable university public relations director had set out drinks, sandwiches, and coffee for his friends in the press corps. "It was a really big spread," one reporter commented.

Affirming that Brandeis "is a sanctuary for the free exchange of ideas," Schottland told the press "It is not-nor will it ever be- a sanctuary for violators of the law or a staging area for violence."

He said he mourned the "wanton and senseless murder of patrolman Schroeder" and pledged scholarships grants amounting to $94,500 to all mine of Schroeder's children.

Continuing what Boston After Dark called his "mea culpa" stance, Schottland pledged full cooperation with police officials including access to all records- aademic, medical, psychiatric, biographical- and open entry to any campus building. If there is any reluctance, "I will personally see that it is done," he added.

Several students and the Boston Globe immediately criticized Schottland for prejudicing the case of the alleged robbers with pre-trial publicity. His statement "The students allegedly involved in the violence are not representative of the Brandeis student body," implies strongly that he believes the student body is as a whole innocent; the other students, guilty.

Another criticism, with more universal applications (especially to Harvard), was the way Schottland threw open the University records, breaching confidentiality not only on those students allegedly involved in the robbery, but on every student and faculty member.

THE GREAT CHASE: PART I:

"You got to understand the Boston police," a reporter explained. "They didn't know what to make of this thing either. To them a 'radical conspiracy' is only a wild fantasy. They didn't know what they were looking for or what to expect. All they knew was that one of their own had been shot and they all wanted to go out totin' their guns to look for him. That's why there was such a big man-hunt on the North Shore."

Police lost little time converging on Hampton Beach after the reported sighting of Gilday Thursday night. A police helicopter saw a man resembling his description run into the salt marshes and hovered over the area for several minutes spraying pepper gas on the area. Police set up a dragnet and skimmed through the swamp until dark. Gilday watched much of the bustle from a tree.

Friday morning at 8 p.m., Gilday surprised Mrs. Ruth Palmer, a 79-year-old widow, in her car and forced her to drive him to Salem, where he let her off and sped away.

He turned off Route 93 heading toward Lowell on Route 38. Suddenly, three policemen gave chase down Route 38 at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Bullets careened off both cars. Gilday's was riddled. One officer was grazed on the forchead when a bullet glanced off the front hood. Just as the police exhausted their ammunition, Gilday's car richocheted off another parked car and spun to a stop near a woods. There was more gunfire, then Gilday disappeared.

Forty-five minutes later, he reappeared along another stretch of highway, where he jumped into the slowly passing car of Vincent Coyne, a Wilmington, Mass. Ford Co. sales manager and ordered Coyne to take him to New Hampshire.

Crouched under the hood pointing a gun at Coyne, Gilday rode for nearly an hour while Coyne criss-crossed the streets of Lowell and Tewksbury, Mass,. passing police cars who had also borne down in the area. At one red light, while Gilday was reloading his gun, Coyne dashed from the car.

Gilday took the driver's seat and sped onward toward New Hampshire. The chase began again with police finding and losing their suspect. Again at speeds over 100, Gilday raced down the back roads, often sliding off onto the shoulder and spinning back on. He abandoned the car in Atkinson, N.H., where he promptly stole another, police said.

Lost for several hours, Gilday was again reported in a house along the Massachusetts- New Hampshire line, but vanished when police closed in.

Over 300 police assembled in the Riverview Drive-in Theater in Haverhill that afternoon. One hundred of them had come from Boston, and the others came from nearby townships bringing their K-9 corps with them. The FBI joined the manhunt after filing an unlawful flight affidavit, based on statements from Valeri, charging that the "radicals" intended to go to San Francisco after the robbery.

The area was cordoned off with roadblocks and checkpoints in the biggest manhunt in New England history. But Gilday was not found.

That night, Gilday's daughter spoke on WHAV in Haverhill: "Dad, this is Sally. Please give yourself up. We are all worried about you. You know it is the only thing to do. You always told Michael [her brother] and me crime doesn't pay. Please, for me, for my birthday- give yourself up."

Saturday, September 26:

The news of the robbery and manhunt is filtering off into even the smallest burgs of northern New England. The police are flooded with tips on the whereabouts of the suspects. The news has now broken around the country. And in New York, a writer for Newsweek is adding adjectives to the final version of the capsulized story which will appear on the newsstands here Tuesday:

"It sounded at first like a throwback to the Depression days of Bonnie and Clyde: three men and two women, with guns blazing, making their getaway from the Brighton branch of Boston's State Street Bank and Trust Co. with $26,000 in stolen cash. Patrolman Walter A. Schroeder, 42, a hero cop and father of nine, tried to head them off- only to be cut down and left dying by a burst of gunfire. When the police were able to piece together what had happened last week, the bank heist appeared to be a bold and bloody new departure in radical-student lawlessness."

Several questions, however, have arisen, the major one concerning whether this was case of three ex-convicts snaring two allegedly radical Brandeis girls into a bank job against the system or two radicals carrying on the revolution with the help of three experienced ex-convicts.

If the girls were "radicals," intent on financing the revolution through bank robberies, what other radical groups did they have connections with besides the strike center and women's lib? Why would the girls steal $26,000 (less a split for Lefty Gilday, who according to the current theory of the police, was hired on for his expertise)? Couldn't the people who raised thousands to run the Brandeis strike center have raised, or if that failed, even embezzled, at least that much? How did Stanley Bond fit in as a 26-year-old student (who many students said "looked and acted like a cop") among younger radicals?

If the ex-convicts had, perhaps, intimidated the students into the robbery, the most basic question was how?

And why had the police not followed up their charges of a larger conspiracy with evidence? They had Valeri under intensive questioning for two days. According to one FBI man he was "scared shit and couldn't talk fast enough." What's the motive? What's the link? Is McNamara trying to make the student strike center and the universities the scapegoat for a bank robbery that was barely noted until the wounded officer died and theCommissioner held his press conference?

In a sworn FBI affidavit made public today, Valeri said the same five who allegedly robbed the bank had also burglarized and fire-bombed the Newburyport Armory to get weapons and "disrupt the military."

Major Gen. Timothy J. Regan, adjutant general of Massachusetts, said "positively no guns were taken" in the September 20 fire-bombing of the Newburyport Armory, although ammunition was.

Portland, Ore., police reported today that Susan Saxe had been positively identified as the same Susan Saxe who had purchased $500 worth of weapons from an Oregon gun store on September 15. They also said she was seen leaving her Portland apartment carrying a "heavy suitcase" on September 18 and had not been seen there since.

The Boston Herald-Traveler today reported that Stanley Bond was the "founder" of the gang.

" A lot of people thought Bond was an agent. I don't. I think he was crazy, but a lot of people here tolerated him. It was the whole movement thing of accepting people for what they are. I mean, can't you think of people at Harvard who tolerated someone just on ideological grounds and let him hang around no matter how obnoxious?" a Brandeis student

Stanley Bond is, to say the least, an enigma. An ex-convxict attending college for the first time, at least five years older than his contemporaries, short hair ... it takes a while to adjust. He started at Brandeis in February with, among other things, a course in French existentialism. He was a man who wrote Ivric poetry and tried to keep one hand into everything. What would you be like, if you were attending college for the first time at the age of 26?

"He was very passive and uninvolved until the Kent State shootings. And then he made a complete reversal and collected money and recruited people to react to Kent State," said a library co-worker.

The student strike focused Bond's activities. He began hanging around the student strike center, walking into rooms where he was not wanted, running errands, and always, always carrying around a tape recorder. At one meeting, he rose to admonish students to "work within the system." The prevailing feeling at the student strike center was that Bond was a cop, but so what?

He was, in the words of one student, "the most ego-maniacal person I ever met. Everything that got in his way he would try to destroy. I don't think he had one friend on campus. People didn't like him." In the words of another, "at best, very neurotic. He was your typical neurotic schmuck."

His actions, many persons said, had a distinct sexual overtone. He was constantly soliciting different girls, including for a while Susan Saxe and, over the summer, Kathy Power. "I once went to a party last year and Bond was there," one student said. "He had his hands on every girl in the place. He was just obnoxious. A lot of girls complained."

Through the administration, police learned that Bond had been seeing a psychiatrist and, during the strike, had been told to discontinue his activities. "I really like the way the administration is playing up to Bond's dependability and that the psychiatrist said he was OK," one student said. "Everybody who knew him knew he was sick."

(The second week of the search for the five suspects in the bank robbery-cop slaying will be covered in tomorrow's CRIMSON: Bond and Gilday are captured; the search for Miss Power and Miss Saxe continues with few clues; the number of robberies involved grows; the police name Michael Fleischer in a warrant and promise that other persons will be named later; the "radical organizations" remain a mystery.

Angela Davis, McNamara, Bond, Gilday, Power, Saxe, Valeri, and others- appearing tomorrow in the Harvard CRIMSON.

"You know, this may be the biggest trial since Sacco-Vanzetti," one Boston newspaper editor confided.)