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The 1947 Attempted Assassination of Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio

This is the story of the 1947 attempted assassination of Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio. Learn how a disgruntled former Capitol policeman tried to 'refresh' the Senator's memory about a financial loss he blamed on Bricker.
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Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio
Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio

This was a headline that caught my eye. Can you imagine the media frenzy if something like this happened today?

Below is the article that I dug up in the Baltimore Sun, published on July 13th, 1947.

Washington, July 12–A former Capitol policeman from Ohio was being held tonight on the charge of firing at Senator Bricker (R., Ohio) today in the subway connecting the Capitol and the Senate Office Building.

The man with the gun–a .22-caliber pistol–was identified as 49-year-old William Louis Kaiser, who said later that he was “trying to refresh” Bricker’s memory.

Aides to Senator Bricker said that Kaiser, who had served on the Capitol police force as a protege of Bricker’s predecessor, had complained to the Ohioan that he had lost money in the liquidation of a building and loan association at Columbus.

Bricker reported that he turned to Macomber and said, “I think that fellow is a little off.”

“We continued to walk toward the subway,” the Senator continued “and I told the operator when we got in, to get out in a hurry. From about 150 feet away after we were sitting in the subway train, he took another shot.”

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“My back was turned as he shot but I saw who it was.”

At the time, Bricker asserted he did not know the man’s name but recalled avisit from him in connection with the loan association liquidation. The Senator said he had told Kaiser at the time of the previous encounter that he was sorry Kaiser had lost his money.

After the second shot, one of the men on the open subway electric car jumped off and ran for the man with the gun. Kaiser was. reported to have stood momentarily, with a smile on his face. The he fled. Washington city policemen arrested him in the lobby of an apartment building in the northwest section of the city some hours later and returned him to the Capitol. Friends of Kaiser’s live in the building.

Capitol and Metropolitan police questioned him behind closed doors for some time, subsequently offering him to reporters for an interview.

Kaiser’s first remark was that “the statement will have to come from the Senator.”

“I’d like to accommodate you, but the statement will have to come from the other side,” he repeated.

“Won’t you tell us why you shot at the Senator?” Kaiser was asked.

“I’d rather not,” the prisoner replied.

“It looks to me as if you were trying to scare rather than kill the Senator,” one reporter commented.

“I was just trying to refresh his memory, that’s all,” Kaiser said quietly.

Members of Bricker’s office said they were under the impression from previous encounters with the man, that Kaiser held Bricker responsible personally for his money loss.

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Enjoy daily

Ghosts of DC stories.