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1930s & Earlier / Baby Face Nelson
Lester Gillis, better known as Baby Face Nelson, due to his youthful appearance, was a diminutive 5'4" tall bank robber in the 1930s. Born in Chicago, he began his criminal career stealing cars. He also worked for a time as an enforcer for Al Capone, fought with Capone's ally and outfit member Anthony Accetturo, and received broken bones for his troubles, but he was let go due to being "too violent" for Capone to control. Nelson came to greater prominence in 1934, when he joined the Dillinger gang. He was the antithesis of popular, Robin Hood-like gangsters of the Depression era. Having a psychopathic bent, he didn't hesitate to kill lawmen and innocent bystanders. In contrast though, Nelson was a devoted husband and father who often had his wife and children with him while running from the law. A running machine gun battle with FBI agents took place on November 27, 1934. It started when Nelson, his wife, and John Paul Chase were driving down a road and saw a police car driving the opposite direction. Nelson hated police and federal agents and used a list of license plates he had compiled to actively hunt them at every opportunity. He had recognized the car and decided to chase them. Once they both stopped, the shootout started. Nelson and Chase used their car for cover, however, he charged at the police and opened fire. Even though he was shot 17 times, he was still able to steal the agents car after killing them. Nelson's wife and Chase helped him into the car and with Nelson giving directions, Chase drove away from the scene. Nelson succumbed to his wounds at approximately 8pm that evening and was unceremoniously dumped near a Skokie, Illinois, cemetery. He holds the dubious distinction of being personally responsible for the killing of more federal agents than any other criminal.