Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

1938 police shootout

1938 police shootout

Feb. 17, 1938: Tear gas drifts from a home in the 1700 block of East 22nd Street as Los Angeles police trade gunfire with barricaded suspect George Farley. The bodies of a deputy city marshal and his helper — shot and killed by Farley as they tried to serve an eviction notice on him — lie in front of the barricaded home. Killed were Deputy Marshal T. Dwight Crittenden and Leon W. Romer, both 60.

Farley, 55, was wounded five times and captured after police stormed the house. He was later convicted of two counts of manslaughter and ordered to serve 10 to 20 years in San Quentin State Prison.

Feb. 17, 1938: Det. Lt. Robert Underwood, shielded by an automobile, fires into the home in which suspect George Farley had barricaded himself. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive / UCLA

These two photos ran in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 18, 1938. No photographer was credited, but when the top image took second place for News Pictures in the 1939 Los Angeles Press Photographers’ Assn. contest, the photographer was identified as Times staffer  J. H. McCrory.

According to an April 21, 1939, L.A. Times article announcing the contest results, this photo, entitled “Tragedy,” was “a remarkable shot taken at great personal risk during the siege of George Farley, who slew two deputy marshals as they tried to serve an eviction notice on him.”

The second image could also have been taken by McCrory, but there was at least one other photographer at the scene. Check out the man in the lower left corner holding what looks like a Speed Graphic.

A digitized copy of a page from a Feb. 18, 1938 edition of the Los Angeles Times showing the published photo with labels added identifying police, bodies and Farley’s rented home. ProQuest


  1. March 14, 2011, 10:39 am

    Detective Underwood is posing, not firing into anywhere. The hammer of his Winchester is down, not in the cocked position.

  2. March 14, 2011, 1:31 pm

    Detective Underwood is not only posing but he is pointing his weapon into the wrong house. The car he is posing infront of is in the driveway of the home smoking from tear gas, Farley's, in the driveway with the rumble seat open with a trunk in it! In the labeled picture he is in front of an ambulance across the street.

    By: YRKidding
  3. March 14, 2011, 6:51 pm

    Detective Underwood is indeed posing (in the second picture) after the shootout ended. The photographer would have been in the line of fire from the house by taking that photo.

    Also, there are two other photographers in the lower left hand corner of the first picture. The 'other' one has his back turned and his camera up to his face.

    Finally, it seems as if all of this actually took place on 23rd street (assuming the 1700 E info is correct). Street View shows palm trees along 22nd street, but there none in this photo (except in the background). Looking northeast from 23rd street provides the background seen in the first photo.

  4. March 15, 2011, 9:33 am

    Does anyone know what became of George Farley? Did he die in prisonor was he eventually released? I cant find any info online.

  5. August 30, 2012, 10:51 am

    Deputy Marshal Crittenden and Deputy Marshal Leon W. Romer were shot and killed while attempting to serve an eviction warrant at a home on East 23rd Street. The suspect opened fire on the two deputy marshals when he was told he would have to leave the home. Deputy Marshal Romer was able to stumble outside, where he collapsed in the front yard. The suspect then shot Deputy Marshal Crittenden in the back as he retreated into the street to seek cover. Responding officers engaged the suspect in an hour-long gun battle until wounding him four times. The man was eventually convicted of two counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.

  6. January 22, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I would LOVE to have that Winchester. One of the few weapons I do not have in my collection 🙂 Great photos, posed or otherwise. I think a lot of us are guilty of reenacting a shooting. Maybe this was taken during the walkthrough. Who knows?


Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published

Browse All Photos »