from the August 31, 1911 Anamosa Eureka:


Mecum and Smitch Captured by Canadian Constabulary

Wage A Desperate Battle

Bert Mecum and Chas. B. Smitch are in custody at Winnipeg, Canada, awaiting trial for the attempted murder of a Canadian constable. Mecum, alias Wilson, alias Garbagan, is the man who held up and shot Allan Hamaker near the Reformatory several weeks ago. Smitch, alias Mecum, is the brother whom he liberated by that holdup. The two bandits are held in Canada under the names of Kelly and Jones, and have confessed that they are the men wanted here for the holdup and escape.

The pair are of degenerate nature and owe their present predicament to lawless natures that led them to leave behind them a trail of crime and red-handed work. The incidents that led to their capture and apprehension bear the same marks of devilishness that stamped the local episode wherein they shot down a guard, bound him to a tree, and then eluded the posse that started in pursuit.

The Winnipeg dispatches indicate that they had been terrorizing a neighborhood of the city with holdups and burglaries. They came under the notice of a constable named Traynor, last Thursday. He sought to effect their capture. The Dominion constabulary carry no firearms, and the Mecums had the officer at a disadvantage. When he challenged them, they drew a gun and kept him at a distance while they made their getaway. Traynor had, however, been disciplined a short time before for letting a prisoner thus escape, and he was persistent. He followed the bandits and finally succeeded in obtaining firearms and enlisting the help of fellow officers.

The Mecums took refuge in a house in the red light district. The police started to raid the place and they emerged again getting the drop on Traynor who was guarding the front door. He withdrew behind a tree and opened fire, missing the bandits. They returned the fire, and in the end dropped the constable with a bullet through the stomach.

Then followed a running fight through the streets of Winnipeg in which the bandits fired recklessly at all who came within range of the .44 caliber revolvers with which they were armed. The fight lasted a full half-hour. The Mecums boarded a street car and covering the motorman with their guns thus sought to outdistance their pursuers. A youthful participant covered himself with glory in the capture by throwing the trolley and thus preventing the moving of the streetcar. Thus baffled, the bandits withdrew from the car holding passengers and officials under drawn revolvers. They held up the driver of a horse and buggy, and with guns pressed against his head again attempted flight. The youth whose wits had prevented their escape on the car again took a hand. He grabbed the horse by the bridle and dodging a fusillade of bullets, delayed the desperadoes until the police effected a capture. The horse was struck by bullets and killed.

The latest communication bore the information that the men had confessed to being Mecum and Smitch. They will not be surrendered. Notwithstanding the $950 which is placed upon their return here, the Dominion police will insist upon trying them there for the attempted murder of Traynor.

There is but little local regret expressed at the inability to extradite the bandits. It is recognized that the Canadian courts of justice will deal far more summarily with them than would be possible in the local courts. It is also recognized that the Canadian prisons are of the sort that make the Iowa institutions parlors of delight.

An illustration of the summary manner in which they deal with criminals in Canada is given in the application of the "third degree" to Smitch, as detailed in the dispatches. Smitch showed signs of nervousness and was selected as the victim upon which to try the work. He refused to answer the questions applied to him and was beaten with police batons until it became necessary to take him to a hospital. He finally confessed that his brother did the shotting. The only thing that prevents the immediate trial of the bandits in the Canadian courts is the possibility of Traynor's death, an outcome which would make the charge more severe. Their appearance before the bar of justice will undoubtedly follow closely upon the decision as to Traynor's fate.

Locally there is general rejoicing that this desperate pair have been run down and will meet their just deserts. Bert Mecum has done two terms at the prison at Jefferson, Missouri. Smitch has served one sentence at Waupon, Wisconsin, and had started on his second term in Iowa. They are a bad lot and society's safety is best served by their detention within prison walls.

The Cedar Rapids Republican contained a dispatch which stated that Allan Hamaker has left the Sanitarium and would return to work in a few days. This was in error. Mr. Hamaker is up and about, and it is expected that he will leave the Sanitarium this week. He will have to take care of himself, however, and will not be able to return to work for some time.